As a narrative subject meant to incite heady passions, forbidden love remains a cornerstone of the performing arts. But whereas Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ranks as the star-crossed standard in drama, opera offers an incomparable roster of doomed lovers. Take, for example, the taboo romance of Lucia and Edgardo, the amorously anguished couple of Lucia di Lammermoor. Adapted from Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor, this Bel Canto masterpiece from Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti famously pairs its dazzling score against a reckless passion that utterly obliterates reason. Recounting the tragedy of a heroine forced to forsake her true love (who belongs to an enemy clan) in order to secure the prosperity promised by an arranged marriage, Donizetti twists melodic beauty with emotional disarray. In the history of opera, few works have depicted deteriorating psyches with such gorgeously fraught grace, climaxing in the "mad scene" aria's final transcendence of sanity. Historically allowing an expressive license to the lead soprano, the movement finds a worthy voice in the acclaimed Susanna Philllips, whose much anticipated turn is sure to provide a highlight of the current season. (Alternatively, standout Minnesota Opera resident artist Angela Mortellaro faces her greatest challenge to date by assuming the lead for the March 4 performance.) With spring fast approaching, leave it to opera to warn of the dangers of being crazy in love. For tickets and info call 612.333.6669 or visit www.mnopera.org.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: March 3. Continues through March 10, 2012