The 55th of Gaetano Donizetti’s 70+ operas, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor,’ is back at Metropolitan Opera for a 12-performance run. Director Mary Zimmerman’s updating to an imprecise 19th-century setting, unveiled in 2007, looks as fresh as ever. Three sopranos share the coveted title role. For the Company’s 603rd performance, seen Tuesday, April 3, the Russian Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti sang the fourth of her five performances opposite Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo as her beloved but politically on-the-outs Edgardo of Ravenswood. Other cast members were baritone Massimo Cavalletti, also from Italy, as Lucia’s cruel brother Enrico Ashton, and Ukrainian bass Vitalij Kowaljow as the chaplain Raimondo Bidebent.

Conductor Gareth Morrell stepped in for the scheduled Roberto Abbado.

Sibling rivalry

Talk about siblings who just don’t get along: Enrico, in Act II, is emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive to Lucia, gradually breaking her spirit and destroying the will to live. Massimo Cavalletti acquitted himself dramatically while deploying a glowing, booming baritone. At times he looks tormented after cruelly mistreating his sister but soon recovers to dish out even more abuse. Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti was more convincing vocally and histrionically in conflict with him than during the happier times of her earlier love duet with Edgardo.

The second act’s pinnacle, the superb sextet, here is cleverly staged as the setup for a group photograph to memorialize the saddest wedding in all opera.

Leading men

Bass Vitalij Kowaljow as Raimondo unsympathetically pontificates on Lucia’s supposed duty to her late mother with a solid, clear instrument that resonates even on the lowest notes.

His Act III aria and cabaletta are elegant refinement itself. As for the volcanic Vittorio Grigolo, well, he erupts with fury during the wedding, cursing and upbraiding Lucia for her seeming infidelity, overturning chairs throughout the ballroom, even struggling in bodily conflict with Enrico and his guards—all without diminishing in the slightest the beauty and power of his ringing, pinging voice.

Baritone Massimo Cavalletti’s riveting performance seals the deal on this tight trio of talent.

Solid support

In smaller roles, as Lucia’s companion Alisa, Deborah Nansteel’s rich mezzo-soprano is a perfect earthy counterweight to Lucia’s stratospheric vocal flights. Tenor Mario Chang sings the brief role of Lord Arturo Bucklaw, the would-be financial rescue to the crumbling fortunes of Lammermoor Castle’s denizens. His voice is lightweight, yet pleasing nonetheless. He shows promise of greater things than the poor man who doesn’t survive his wedding night. Deft instrumental support comes from Mariko Anraku, whose two-minute solo harp prelude to Lucia’s opening scena is gorgeous. In Act III’s deservedly famous mad scene, Friedrich Heinrich Kern plays a spooky glass harmonica, lending richer otherworldly tones than the more commonly-used flute.

During curtain calls, the grateful soprano stretched from the stage to shake his hand in the orchestra pit for his spot-on timing.

Stellar standouts

Tall, slender, and handsome Olga Peretyatko-Mariotti’s heartily applauded mad scene, sung with beautiful tone, stresses more the elegant vocal line than the music’s intrinsic drama. Such expansiveness dissipates much of the dramatic tension. Act III belongs to tenor Vittorio Grigolo. Edgardo’s troubles bookend Lucia’s matchless central mad scene. The duet with Enrico, who challenges Edgardo to a duel, is electrifying, and the final scene’s double aria augmented by male chorus is a masterpiece. Mr. Grigolo knows how to put tears and sobs into his beautiful singing, to convey pathos and desperation, without breaking his resonance.

He’s definitely worth the price of a ticket.

At the helm

Maestro Gareth Morrell led Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in a rich and spirited reading of the score. Act I’s balance problems between stage and pit—resolved after the first intermission—rendered all soloists to some degree difficult to hear, except Vittorio Grigolo, easily heard even in his softest, whispered passages. Before Act III, conductor and orchestra received a rousing ovation from an enthusiastic crowd. Metropolitan Opera Chorus is a marvel in this work, especially impressive in the wedding scene and Act III’s party/mad scene, which includes some elegant dancing for 20 or so chorus members.

"Lucia di Lammermoor," by Gaetano Donizetti, till May 10, Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York, New York.