The finale to Act 2 of Donizetti’s masterpiece starts immediately after the conclusion of the famous sextet. Edgardo has stormed into Lammermoor Castle outraged that Lucia is about to marry someone else. She has been tricked into agreeing to a marriage favorable to her brother’s straightened situation. When Edgardo is shown the marriage contract that Lucia has signed he curses her and throws the ring that she had given him in the first act at her and then storms out of the castle.
This finale is the model for those written by Verdi in the first half of his career. This time, I’ll post two versions of it featuring the two sopranos most associated with the opera’s title role in the mid-twentieth century – Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. They are partnered with the two tenors that were the foremost Edgardos of the same period – Giuseppe Di Stefano and Richard Tucker.
The first excerpt is from a 1955 performance of the opera under the direction of Herbert Von Karajan. It has an ending that isn’t in my copy of the score. I don’t know where it came from. I think it dulls the edge of this vigorous stretta. Lucia Act 2 finale Callas Di Stefano Karajan
The finale featuring Sutherland and Tucker is from a 1966 performance at the Met. It has the conventional ending. Richard Bonynge’s (Sutherland’s husband) conducting could benefit from a little more energy. The tenor’s outburst near the end of the piece lies in the middle of the tenor’s passaggio, a dangerous place for Di Stefano. Tucker give a masterclass on how to negotiate this part of the tenor range. Lucia Act2 finale Sutherland Tucker Bonynge