How many dead tenors does it take to bring Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor to blazing life? Usually two. One portrays Arturo, the wealthy nobleman whom the conflicted heroine dispatches on their wedding night. The other is Edgardo, the mad maid’s true love — and enemy of the family — who stabs himself when he learns that Lucia has expired after doing her loony coloratura thing.
In Chautauqua Opera Company’s stirring production of Donizetti’s greatest hit Saturday in the Amphitheater, Lucia used her bloody knife on a third tenor, Normanno, during the mad scene. He’s the fellow who made major trouble by providing Enrico, Lucia’s dastardly brother, with a fake, forged note from Edgardo about an alleged infidelity.
The increased body count wasn’t the only ghoulish touch in Jay Lesenger’s inventive staging. Even before Lucia sang her first aria — about a jealous young man who stabbed his sweetheart — the ghosts of those figures danced across the stage. At key moments throughout the opera, they returned to reinforce the theme of doomed love.