New York based soprano Amanda Pabyan in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, onstage at the James Hay Theatre


There's murder and madness onstage at the James Hay Theatre for Canterbury Opera's stunning production of Lucia di Lammermoor, a grand opera by Donizetti.


Vbase is a proud sponsor of this international production. The artistic director and conductor is Sydney-based Brian Castles-Onion. The director is Nigel Warrington, based in Denmark. Soprano Amanda Pabyan (29) made a return appearance to Canterbury Opera (she was here for Lakme two years ago) for her debt in this role, demonstrating why she is regarded as one of the foremost bel canto singers of her generation.  Her next performance will be as Queen of the Night  in The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.


There are several strong male roles in this opera. Australian tenor Angus Wood, no stranger to the Christchurch Town Hall stages, plays Edgardo, Lucia's ill-fated lover. The forceful brother Enrico is played by Jose Carbo, Argentinean born and resident in Australia, making his debut appearance with Canterbury Opera. Bass Adam Flaherty, playing the chaplain Raimondo, is also based in Sydney.


Two Christchurch singers played leading roles; tenor Fernand Kenel (Arturo, the murdered bridegroom) and Maree Hawtin-Morrow (Alisa, Lucia's companion). Geoffrey Knight (Normanno) has been in the chorus for many Canterbury Opera productions.


The stage setting was a page torn from history, and the costumes reflected the silhouettes and shapes of the drama, set in 1669, but stripped back, deconstructed and made with modern fabrics.


Canterbury Opera is celebrating its 21st Anniversary Year. Their next opera will be Dvorak's Rusalka in October.