Scott at the Opera
Walter Scott’s literary works have inspired 93 operas, more than those of any other writer apart from Shakespeare. This is perhaps unsurprising given Scott’s enormous success as a writer and poet.
While editing his ballad collection, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Scott began to write original poems, including ballad imitations. His imitation of a medieval romance, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, was published in 1805 and launched his successful poetic career. In 1814 he turned to novel-writing and published Waverley, about the 1745 Jacobite uprising, which became one of the most widely read novels in Europe.
The dramatic images of Scottish stories and landscapes in Scott’s work appealed to the Romantic sensibilities of authors and musicians in many lands, and inspired adaptations in various genres, including opera.
One of the most enduring, Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), was based on Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), which tells of a tragic love affair between two young people from feuding families, ending in the heroine’s madness and death.
Salvadore Cammarano, when writing the text for Lucia, relied on the simple, tragic love story at the heart of Scott’s novel, which in many ways resembled a traditional Scottish ballad. Premiering in Naples’ Teatro di San Carlo in 1835, Lucia remains an opera house staple today.
Lucia di Lammermoor opera playbill
Opera houses across Europe advertised performances using playbills, like this one for a showing of Lucia in a Berlin theatre on September 23 1843.
Lucia di Lammermoor, Verranno a te sull'aure, Act 1
Performed at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 2015
In this scene, Edgardo has announced that he must leave Lucia as he has been sent as an emissary to Paris. They exchange rings, thus sealing a marriage under Scottish law. Lucia tells Edgardo that her loving sighs will reach him on the breeze, and that he must remember that she will be nourished by suffering.
Conductor: Marco Armiliato
Stage Director: Damiano Michieletto
Performers: Juan Diego Flórez, Elena Mosuc
Included here with kind permission of Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Lucia di Lammermoor returns to Scotland
Short film by Mario Pistolese and Michele Sorrentino Mangini
This short film produced by Teatro di San Carlo in Naples celebrates Gaetano Donizetti’s 1835 much-loved opera Lucia di Lammermoor, by tracing its roots back to its origins in Walter Scott’s 1819 novel, The Bride of Lammermoor.