Act 1 "Regnava nel silenzio", Virginia Zeani sang Lucia in London in 1957. The opera had not been heard in England since 1925 and was considered nothing more than a frivolous, out of date curiosity. Toti del Monte had been the last to sing the role and hers was reputedly a light weight interpretation in which she "fluttered a fan".
In 1957 opera was presented in Oscar Hammersteins's vast Stoll Theatre by an ad hoc Italian Touring company, in a rudimentary staging with simple, painted scenery. Yet, despite the very modest production, Virginia Zeani's brilliantly sung, dramatically compelling Lucia completely changed people's attitudes to the opera, even convincing a sceptical Covent Garden management to go ahead with their own production two years later.
Virginia Zeani 's Lucia is a real flesh and blood character. Singing with vibrant, luminous tone, she uses the music to convey the emotions of the deeply disturbed heroine, employing ornamentation for dramatic effect and never merely for empty display. Zeani studied the role with the coloratura soprano Lydia Lipkowska, who taught her the traditional embellishments, handed down from Donizetti's early interpreters.
Lucia and her attendant have a come to the fountain in the forest where Lucia is to meet her beloved Edgardo. In the aria "Regnava nel silenzio" Lucia relates the tale of a sorry young girl whose ghostly apparition haunts the fountain.
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NB The recordings of Mme Virginia Zeani are mostly from radio broadcasts or private or in-house tapes. They were saved by her fans and later, without her permission, sometimes transferred to CDs by companies who pay her no royalties. They are now posted on YouTube so that new opera lovers can freely experience and enjoy her remarkable performances.
Watch videos with other singers performing Regnava nel silenzio: