L'Elisir D'Amore is one of Donizetti's best operas, heart-warming, funny and immensely charming with some of the most beautiful music Donizetti ever wrote(Una Furtiva Lagrima has become a tenor showpiece and it's easy to see why). While the Bergonzi(with Scotto), Pavarotti(both productions especially the earlier one) and Netrebko performances are ranked higher, this production directed by Laurent Pelly is still delightful. It is updated to a mid-twentieth century farm town- or something like that- but not distastefully in the slightest. In fact it's imaginative and has a very appealing rustic charm. Pelly's stage direction is right on point, the comedy is inventive and most importantly hilarious, and the scenes that one would consider heart-warming are quite affecting. The comedy never feels too much and doesn't swamp the production in the least, while that the production is fresh and imaginative avoids it from feeling slight and such. The video directing, picture and sound quality are excellent. Musically it's fine as well. The orchestral playing is lively and stylish and always with a beautiful sound, while the chorus are animated and Edward Gardner conducts with energy and vigour and never a pedantic approach.
The singing is generally very good, and characterisations are spot-on. The best performance comes from Ambrogio Maestri as Dulcamara, a suitably sly and supple performance that is rich in genuinely hilarious comic timing(sometimes in his facial expressions alone). He has the best voice of the production too, richly toned and not blustery and shaded beautifully. Laurent Naouri is very funny and zany as Belcore and doesn't come across as too much of a bully. He also has a sonorous voice that is just right for Donizetti though he does have a tendency to bark too much. Heidi Grant Murphy's voice doesn't have the largest or sweetest of timbres, but it is flexible enough and hardly un-listenable. Her Adina is both charming and shrewish, Murphy does very well in not playing it too cute while giving the character some edge. Paul Groves' Nemorino is very appealing, his voice has lost some of its freshness and has seen better days but he still sings beautifully and with great style and lyricism. (He also at least gets the meaning of Una Furtiva Lagrima across right, one of those arias that actually isn't as sad as the minor key makes it sound.) His characterisation is very true to the libretto, not particularly bright but easily sweet and lovestruck which makes Adina's eventual attraction towards him believable. In conclusion, a delightful and beautifully characterised production. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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