- 08 Nov 2013
Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) is a tragic Opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Text by Salvatore Cammarano, from the romance The Bride of Lammermoor. The Bride of Lammermoor is a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott, set in Lammermuir Hills Scotland in the reign of Queen Anne (1702–1714). The novel tells of a tragic love affair between Lucy Ashton (Janet Dalrymple) and her family’s enemy Edgar Ravenswood. Scott indicated the plot was based on an actual incident. The Bride of Lammermoor and A Legend of Montrose were published together in 1819; together they form the third series of Scott’s Tales of My Landlord.
The story recounts the tragic love of Lucy Ashton, and Edgar, Master of Ravenswood.
Edgar’s father was stripped of the title for supporting the deposed King James II. Lucy’s ambitious father, Sir William Ashton (fiction = Dalrymple) then bought the Ravenswood estate (fiction = Rutherford estate). Edgar hates Sir William for this usurpation of his family’s heritage, but on meeting Lucy, falls in love with her, and renounces his plans for vengeance.
Sir William’s haughty and manipulative wife, Lady Ashton, is the villainess of the story. She is determined to end the initial happy engagement of Edgar and Lucy, and force Lucy into a politically advantageous arranged marriage. Lady Ashton intercepts Edgar’s letters to Lucy and persuades Lucy that Edgar has forgotten her.
Edgar leaves Scotland for France, to continue his political activities. While he is away, Lady Ashton continues her campaign. She gets Captain Westenho, a wandering soldier of fortune, to tell everyone that Edgar is about to get married in France. She even recruits “wise woman” Ailsie Gourlay (a witch in all but name) to show Lucy omens and tokens of Edgar’s unfaithfulness.
Lucy still clings to her troth, asking for word from Edgar that he has broken off with her; she writes to him. Lady Ashton suppresses Lucy’s letter, and brings the Reverend Bide-the-bent to apply religious persuasion to Lucy. However, Bide-the-bent instead helps Lucy send a new letter. But there is no answer.
Lady Ashton finally bullies Lucy into marrying Francis, Laird of Bucklaw. But on the day before the wedding, Edgar returns. Seeing that Lucy has signed the betrothal papers with Bucklaw, he repudiates Lucy, who can barely speak.
The wedding takes place the next day, followed by a celebration at Ravenswood. While the guests are dancing, Lucy stabs Bucklaw in the bridal chamber, severely wounding him. She descends quickly into insanity and dies. Bucklaw recovers, but refuses to say what had happened.
Edgar reappears at Lucy’s funeral. Lucy’s older brother, blaming him for her death, insists that they meet in a duel. Edgar, in despair, reluctantly agrees. But on the way to the meeting, Edgar falls into quicksand and dies.
In the story, Caleb Balderstone, an eccentric old Ravenswood family retainer, provides some comic relief.
Opera: Henry Ashton, lord of Lammermoor, has discovered that his sister Lucia loves his mortal enemy Sir Edgar of Ravenswood. He confides to Lucia’s tutor Raymond that he is lost if Lucia does not marry another suitor of his (her brother’s) choice.
Lucia and Edgar meet in the park. Edgar tells her that he is about to leave Scotland for France in the service of his country. He wishes to be reconciled to his enemy Lord Ashton, for, though the latter has done him all kinds of evil, though he has slain his father and burned his castle, Edgar is willing to sacrifice his oath of vengeance to his love for Lucia. But the lady, full of evil forebodings, entreats him to wait and swears eternal fidelity to him. After having bound himself by a solemn oath, he leaves her half-distracted with grief.
In the second act Lord Ashton shows a forged letter to his sister, which goes to prove that her lover is false. Her brother now presses her more and more to wed his friend Arthur, Lord Bucklaw, declaring that he and his party are lost and that Arthur alone can save him from the executioner’s axe. At last, when even her tutor Raymond beseeches her to forget Edgar, and, like the others, believes him to be faithless, Lucia consents to the sacrifice. The wedding takes place in great haste, but just as Lucia has finished signing the marriage contract, Edgar enters to claim her as his own.
With grief and unbounded passion he now sees in his bride a traitress, and tearing his ring of betrothal from her finger, he throws it at her feet.
Henry, Arthur, and Raymond order the raving lover to leave the castle, and the act closes in the midst of confusion and despair.
The third act opens with Raymond’s announcement that Lucia has lost her reason and has killed her husband in the bridal room. Lucia herself enters to confirm his awful news; she is still in bridal attire, and in her demented condition believes that Arthur will presently appear for the nuptial ceremony. Every-body is full of pity for her, and her brother repents his harshness too lateLucia is fast dying, and Eliza leads her away amid the lamentations of all present.
Edgar, hearing of these things while wandering amid the tombs of his ancestors, resolves to see Lucia once more. When dying she asks for him, but he comes too late. The funeral bells toll, and he stabs himself, praying to be united to his bride in heaven.