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The Ashton family has been embroiled in an ongoing feud with the Ravenswood family. Enrico has murdered the patriarch of the Ravenswood clan and taken over their lands and castle.
Enrico Ashton is aggravated because his sister Lucia refuses to marry Arturo Bucklaw, a prominent nobleman. An alliance with Bucklaw would allow the Ashton family to consolidate its political strength and regain its dominance, but Lucia stubbornly rejects the offer. The family chaplain, Raimondo, cautions Enrico against forcing Lucia into marriage, saying that she is still mourning her dead mother and is no mood for romantic entanglements. Normanno, Enrico’s captain, sneers at this suggestion and tells Enrico that Lucia has in fact been going out on nightly trysts with a man named Edgardo. Enrico is furious at this revelation because Edgardo is his sworn enemy, a member of the dispossessed Ravenswood family. Enrico vows to spill blood in revenge.
By a fountain on the castle grounds, the servant Alisa begs Lucia to forget all about the reckless love affair with Edgardo but Lucia is uninterested in her advice. Eventually Edgardo arrives saying he must set sail for France in the morning. Before he departs, however, he intends to ask Enrico for Lucia’s hand in marriage. Knowing that her brother will refuse, Lucia convinces Edgardo to keep their love secret. He concedes and they make a vow to be faithful to each other.
Enrico and Normanno have been intercepting all of Edgardo’s letters from abroad in order to drive a wedge between the lovers. Now they have forged a letter in which Edgardo declares that he is in love with another woman. Lucia is horrified by what she reads and plunges into total despair, wishing for death. Raimondo counsels Lucia to sacrifice herself for the sake of the family and go through with the arranged marriage to Arturo. Miserable and resigned, Lucia agrees.
At the wedding ceremony, Lucia is in a daze and has to be physically propped up by Alisa and Raimondo to sign the marriage contract. Right after she does, Edgardo bursts though the doors. A violent fight nearly erupts, but Raimondo succeeds in pacifying the situation. Edgardo learns that Lucia has been married to another man and curses her.
That night, Enrico challenges Edgardo to a duel at sunrise. Meanwhile, at the castle, Raimondo brings news to the wedding guests that Lucia has stabbed Arturo to death in their bed chamber. Lucia appears in a state of complete delirium, thinking she is married to Edgardo. Enrico rushes in and his fury gradually gives way to great remorse as he witnesses Lucia’s mental unraveling and collapse.
At dawn, Edgardo is awaiting the beginning of the duel. A procession of people from the castle informs him that Lucia, in the throes of death, has been calling out for him. He sets out for the castle, but Raimondo arrives to tell him Lucia has already died. Overcome with the realization that she has loved him all along, Edgardo kills himself.
Anna Christy as Lucia in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor, 2013. Photo: Chris Hutcheson