Donizetti, L’Elisir d’Amore: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Glyndebourne Touring Opera / Pablo González (Conductor), New Victoria Theatre, Woking 30.10.13 (RB)
Adina: Joélle Harvey
Nemorino: Christopher Tiesi
Belcore: Alessandro Luongo
Dulcamara: Riccardo Novarro
Giannetta: Sadhbh Dennedy
Dulcamara’s Assistant: James Bellorini
Director: Annabel Arden
Revival Director: Paul Higgins
So will or won’t Nemorino win the girl of his dreams? Donizetti’s sparkling comedy is brought winningly to life in this delightful revival of Annabel Arden’s 2007 production. The action is set in a sun drenched Mediterranean village with the set comprising a traditional rural brick building and an adjacent village square. The villagers’ costumes are all fairly traditional with Nemorino sporting a pair of blue dungarees throughout.
Joélle Harvey and Christopher Tiesi are both young and attractive performers: they look the part and portrayed their roles to perfection. Harvey gave us a fully rounded Adina and during the course of the opera she took us with her on an emotional journey from being a carefree girl of the village to someone who really loves and cares for Nemorino. She has a terrific voice and negotiated Donizetti’s tricky vocal writing and intricate coloratura with ease while giving us a very pure and beautifully blended sound in the more lyrical sections of the opera.
Christopher Tiesigave us a very sweet and endearing Nemorino with his hangdog expressions and wistful looks and he also did an excellent job with some of the physical comedy. He has a warm Italianate voice and sings with a light and beautifully judged vibrato – again he did a superb job with Donizetti’s intricate vocal writing. Occasionally, I was looking for a little more vocal projection and power and he was not entirely at ease when soaring into the upper register but I am sure there is scope for his voice to develop further.
The supporting cast all did an excellent job with their roles. Alessandro Luongo brought out the monstrous pomposity of Belcore while González and the orchestra did a superb job in sending him up. Riccardo Novaro embodied the scheming Dulcamara to perfection: as he pedalled his quack potions to the villagers he brought a bustling salesman’s charm and energy to the role. His diction and coloratura were absolutely superb; some of Donizetti’s vocal writing is very fast and tricky and he managed to achieve an amazing degree of clarity while maintaining elegance of line. His assistant, played by James Bellorini, helped to ratchet up the comedy in this production by giving us some wordless physical comedy and mime. With his camp, outlandish costume and handlebar moustache he rather reminded me of a Victorian circus performer, while the physical comedy brought back memories of Eric Morecambe in his heyday. Sadhbh Dennedy is a real find from the Glyndebourne chorus and she has a very fine voice although there is scope for her to develop the character of Giannetta further.
Some of the scenes in the production were particularly striking. When Dulcamara and his assistant arrive, the latter climbs up a lamp post and redirects the village’s electricity supply to project Monty Pythonesque type cartoons on to a screen, while Dulcamara is working the villagers. The scene at the wedding was very funny indeed with Dulmara’s assistant tottering in with a massively tiered wedding cake then dressing in drag and miming Adina’s responses to Belcore. The duet between Adina and Dulcamara was here given an absolutely sparkling performance while Tiesi’s rendition of Una Furtiva Lagrima was warm and really tugged at the heart strings.
Pablo González did a sterling job with the Glyndebourne orchestra and brought out the bombast, high jinks, whimsy and comic exuberance in the score while the big set piece numbers were well controlled. The Glyndebourne chorus were also in fine voice throughout and delivered the set piece numbers with brio and clarity.
Another fine production from Glyndebourne.
The tour continues to Norwich, Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Glyndebourne, Plymouth and Stoke on Trent. www.glyndebourne.com/about-tour-2013