It's not new that South America has become a place where major opera productions are performed. Buenos Aires and Santiago are leading the way in the region for decades. However, other cities like Rio, Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Bogotá and Lima have been lucky to receive important opera legends in productions of high international standards. Lima is one of those cities in which, for several years, and thanks to private initiatives, we enjoy big events that draw international attention.

Jessica Pratt (Lucia) and Julian Kim (Enrico) © Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú
Jessica Pratt (Lucia) and Julian Kim (Enrico)
© Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú

Since peruvian tenor Ernesto Palacio founded the International Festival de Ópera "Alejandro Granda" (in honor of another great internationally renowned Peruvian tenor from the 30s) Lima had received many legendary artists. Juan Diego Flórez has debuted roles such as the Duke of Mantua, Arnold (Guillaume Tell) or Roméo here, and will also try out Werther and Alfredo in the next few seasons. The young English soprano Jessica Pratt debuted here in Guillaume Tell, back in 2013.

This is how Pratt returned to Lima to give us an extraordinary performance in the role she is famous for in theatres around the world: Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, in which she has triumphed at La Scala, Rome and 17 other productions. Pratt is a smart singer who goes deep in her exploration of the old traditions of bel canto. Her beautiful legato line and powerful high notes are widely exhibited here, including a demolishing high F during the duet with Raimondo in the second act. Her stage movements, beautiful pianos and a prodigious legato made her shine in every scene, especially in the famous and deadly mad scene, in which she showed all her skills, singing like a bird.

Young Polish tenor Arnold Rutkowski was a red-blooded Edgardo, who could maintain this level, with breathtaking high notes and a fresh voice suitable for the style throughout the opera. He showed his best during the sextet and finale of Act II, the duet with Enrico and in his grand finale. The artist who impressed us the most by his imposing presence and beauty of timbre was Korean baritone Julian Kim. He possesses a line of impeccable singing that recalls the great Piero Cappuccilli. His precise high notes are powerful and his immersion in the role was complete.

Croatian bass Marko Mimica as Raimondo has a noble timbre, and natural dramatism through the voice, especially in his great aria in the third act. Mimca is an extraordinary performer who should surprise us in starring roles in the future. Peruvian singers Edda Paredes as Alisa, Juan Pablo Marcos as Arturo and Dangelo Diaz as Normanno had no less beautiful voices and were big presences on stage, along with their international colleagues. The Coro Nacional, directed by Javier Súnico, took all credit with a powerful and compact sound and beautiful phrasing, that makes it an internationally renowned ensemble.

Edda Paredes (Alisa) and Jessica Pratt (Lucia) © Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú
Edda Paredes (Alisa) and Jessica Pratt (Lucia)
© Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú

Brazilian director Allex Aguilera presented a minimalist, highly stylized production, in which the characters do not exhibit realistic but rather referential gestures. Many of these effects reduce the drama and do not help projecting voices. However, the entrance of Lucia in the Mad Scene, is visually superb. The costumes of Uruguayan Adam Martinez had an imposing beauty and beautiful detail, making a good contrast with the simplicity of the modern stage design.

The promising young Venezuelan conductor Carlos Izcaray gave a dramatic account of the score, even though the orchestra was not outstanding. This is a seasonal orchestra that lacks some cohesion, which was needed to achieve better effects with Donizetti's brilliant score. As Festival Granda, in Peru there are other initiatives that bring high-level ensembles and increasingly ambitious productions in opera. This positive situation has created great interest in local young singers, who participate in local competitions and show beautiful voices. The future of opera in Peru is assured.