James Levine cancelled from last night's Met Lucia as simply "indisposed": given that he wasn't scheduled to lead next Wednesday's end-of-run performance in the first place, I think it a pretty fair bet that he won't appear for the intervening Saturday matinee either. In his place was Joseph Colaneri, who was scheduled for that last performance anyway. Colaneri conducted a very good conventional account of Lucia: well shaped overall, very strong in Act 2's climax, and always ready to give the singers space over a regular underlying beat. But somehow the magic of discovery that illuminated fall performances has evaporated not only from the conducting but Dessay's mad scene, which seemed yesterday more like, well, a very good conventional account than an improbable new light on such familiar material. Were Levine's fine textures and control essential to the wild shades of sexual tension and release in those fall mad scenes? Maybe. Or perhaps it was just the night, or colleague turnover.
It's unfortunate, because changing Edgardos from Marcello Giordani to Giuseppe Filianoti had the expected lively effect. Giordani is a good straight man for Dessay, but can't otherwise act; he can sing well but had difficulties in this opera. Filianoti's overpowering passion returns balance to the piece, with the long tenor finale no longer woodenly-acted anticlimax. Vocally he may have changed a bit since I last heard his Edgardo: the sound is a bit broader and less plangent, and on this night at least his high notes were a bit difficult, less rather than more clarion than the rest of the voice. He lets his character intensity get in his way at times, letting yelps and squeaks break into the vocal line when most heated. His stage presence remains what it was (though with some more gestural variety), self-regardingly intense enough that Lucia's fear of losing her bond to him seems plausible. He rushed too much ahead in his Act I singing (too much adrenaline?) but had no such issue afterwards.
I'm not actually sure why I'm nitpicking at such length: it was, as I said, a very good account of this masterpiece. (Mariusz Kwiecien in particular seems now remarkably fit for his part.) I'll see if I can go again.