Still brainstorming for a costume to wear to that highbrow Halloween party? Here’s an idea: bloodstained wedding dress. No, you’re not Carrie—it’s not a prom dress. No, you’re not the bride from Kill Bill—no sword. You’re Lucia di Lammermoor, gone mad.

Lucia di Lammermoor, now running at the Lyric Opera of Chicago to enthusiastic reviews, ranks as the most famous of bel canto operas, the genre marked by long melodic lines and sprightly singing that flourished in early 19th-century Italy.

Teach your fellow partygoers how Lucia climaxes with one of the genre's greatest opportunities for spectacular coloratura singing and scenery-chewing. Blame the character if you burst into the party spattered in blood, looking crazed; Lucia does the same at her wedding party, wearing the blood of her recently wedded husband, out of control of all her mental faculties except for those governing breath support and diaphragmatic control.

If your high E-flat is a little shaky, you could glaze your eyes over and intone some of these spooky phrases from the mad scene, also known as “Il Dolce Suono” (“The Sweet Sound”).

  • Cold creeps into my breast! Every fiber trembles! My foot falters!
  • Ah me! The tremendous ghost emerges and separates us!
  • A heavenly harmony—don’t you hear it? Ah, the marriage hymn!
  • At last, I am yours. At last, you are mine.

If anyone looks confused, calmly let them know that they are disrespecting Gaetano Donizetti, who was one of the composers most central to bel canto opera.

For closer study, Lyric’s Lucia runs through Nov. 6, starring Albina Shagimuratova, the latest in an impressive line of sopranos Lyric has let bloody the stage, including Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Natalie Dessay, and Susanna Phillips. (More photos for inspiration below.)

And by the way, that guy costumed with a scar over his eye isn’t Anakin Skywalker. He’s Wotan.

Lucia di Lammermoor. Through Nov. 6. $34–$299. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr.

(l.)June Anderson and Susanna Phillips show off excellent distressed Lucia faces Photo: Tony Romano, Dan Rest
Natalie Dessay shows that the horrified onlookers are a big part of the costume. Photo: Dan Rest
Albina Shagimuratova, the Lyric's latest LuciaPhoto: Andrew Cioffi