Some 40 years had passed since the death of Mozart, and Donizetti had made a name for himself with Anna Bolena and L'Elisir d'Amore. His music is certainly more fragile than Mozart's and his originality lies in his use of melody which is masterfully constructed to evoke humour, sentimentality and tragedy. In Lucia his musical canvass is, perhaps, the greatest he ever painted. Based on a story by Sir Walter Scott, it tells of the love of Lucia for Edgar of Ravenswood, who is the last of a rival household. In order that the Lammermoors' fortunes can be retrieved, Lucia's brother, Lord Henry Ashton, arranges for her to marry a politically influential figure, Lord Arturo Bucklaw. Ashton arranges that a forged paper indicating the infidelity of Lucia's lover is passed to her. She believes herself deserted and unwillingly consents to marriage with Bucklaw. On sealing the contract with her signature at the wedding, Edgar appears, having returned from France to claim his Lucia. Convinced that she has betrayed his love he damns her and throws the ring she gave him at her feet. The effect of this is to drive Lucia insane, she slays her husband and dies of her sorrows. Edgar waits to duel with Lord Ashton outside the castle. But Ashton flees, leaving Edgar in solitude. Edgar is then told by a procession of Lucia's death. He kills himself in sorrow.
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