Villazón in L’Elisir d’Amore : Love and Admiration

SpainSpain G. Donizetti: L’Elisir d’Amore. Liceu’s Orchestra and Chorus, Daniele Callegari (conductor), Barcelona’s Liceu. 5.6.2013 (JMI)

Production: Barcelona’s Liceu
Direction: Mario Gas
Sets and Costumes: Marcelo Grande
Lighting: Quico Gutiérrez

Nemorino: Rolando Villazón
Adina: Aleksandra Kurzak
Dulcamara: Ambrogio Maestri
Belcore: Joan Martín-Royo
Giannetta: Cristina Obregón

Once again we have L’Elisir D’Amore at Barcelona’s Liceu. In this series there are four performances starring Rolando Villazon as Nemorino. I would say this is a must given his enormous popular success eight years ago, and the additional natural interest in seeing how his voice has recovered following the surgery he had four years ago.

Because of this I shall start with his performance. I hasten to say that he remains the great artist that he always was, but there are some problems with the voice. Villazón is a true prodigy on stage, with outstanding communication skills that I cannot remember being possessed by any other singer. The focus of the stage is always on him, who is a show by himself, and he plays the character faultlessly. It is no wonder that the public is always with him, regardless of his vocal flaws, and I am happy to say that the Liceu was fully sold out with an audience ready to pay a tribute of love and admiration to him.

Despite his personal charisma and talent, I have to say that Rolando Villazón is a shadow of his former self. The voice has lost its brilliance and there are problems with projection in the middle register, while the top notes are quite thin and poorly produced at times. His interpretation of Una Furtiva Lagrima had nothing to do with what he sang eight years ago and at the beginning of the second act it was announced that he was indisposed (which was also warmly received by the audience). In short, Villazón remains a great Nemorino, if we forget the singing.

Aleksandra Kurzak still seems to me to be an artificial product of opera marketing. I saw her playing Adina in Valencia two years ago when she did not convince me and the same happened this time. She has an attractive soprano, with an appealling timbre, but her success is difficult to understand. Hers is a light soprano with a fairly small center, and almost non-existent low notes. The voice is much better at the top, but has difficulties from high C, where the voice becomes too thin. Her coloratura is not particularly bright. She is a singer who should play Zerlina rather than roles such as Violeta, Juliette and Mimi, which are now in her repertoire.

The real success of the evening, apart from Rolando Villazon, was Ambrogio Maestri in the part of Dulcamara. To his acting skills he adds an important baritone which is more powerful than all the rest of the cast together. Today he is the reference Dulcamara. He seemed to enjoy being on stage and the final bows.

Joan Martín-Royo was a modest Belcore. His voice is rather small and not easily projected, and this is a problem in a character like Belcore. His acting was much better than his singing.

There was a good performance from Cristina Obregon as Giannetta, a role in which she has become a specialist.

Regarding Daniele Callegari and Mario Gas’s stage production I have nothing to add to what I wrote in November.

The Liceu gave a standing ovation to Rolando Villazón and his Furtiva Lagrima got 51 seconds of applause. In November, his compatriot Javier Camarena got almost 2 minutes (110 seconds) in the same aria.

José Mª. Irurzun