Opera + Classical Music Reviews

L’elisir d’amore @ Royal Opera House, London

12, 15, 18, 20, 23, 25 May 2009

L'elisir d'amore

L’elisir d’amore (Photo: Johan Persson)

Diana Damrau is a delightful Adina in the Royal Opera’s revival of Laurent Pelly’s heart-warming production of L’elisir d’amore. With a strong supporting cast, Donizetti’s bucolic love story provides just the tonic on a wintry spring evening.

Laurent Pelly has been responsible for many ingenious stagings over the last few years but whilst he can often get a bit carried away with himself, this two-year old production of L’elisir d’amore is a model of restraint and ingenuity. He updates the action to the era of La Dolce Vita and within Chantal Thomas’ witty and evocative set designs, manages to create a relatively believable setting for what is a pretty silly story.

The curtain rises on a pyramid of hay bales, where the lovelorn Nemorino is staking out Adina. Giuseppe Filianoti presents Nemorino as the village bumpkin down to a fault, and whilst his voice takes a while to warm up, he goes on to give us some thrilling singing as the evening progresses. It’s a shame he had to resort to some falsetto singing in his second act aria, ‘Una furtiva lagrima’, as this spoiled an otherwise fastidious account of this well known piece.

As Adina, the thrilling young soprano Diana Damrau proved yet again that she is not only one of the most exciting sopranos to come out of Germany in recent years, but that few singers can match her for her versatility or range of roles which she undertakes. She was a delight throughout both vocally and dramatically.

As the quack who provides his quick-fix elixir for all maladies, Simone Alaimo gave a tour de force performance as Dulcamara his entrance in a lorry which converts into his dubious emporium was a proper coup de theatre and he sang with lan throughout.

Despite a few woolly low notes Anthony Michaels-Moore brought a suitably priapic swagger to the role of Adina’s military suitor, Belcore. The chorus threw themselves into the spirit of the piece and with extras on Vespas, bicycles and even a scampering Jack Russell, there was plenty to keep the eye engaged throughout the evening.

Bruno Campanella provided solid support in the pit and apart from a couple of moments of dubious string tuning in places, the orchestra played well. This opera is never going to be a challenge, so for a perfectly enjoyable evening in the theatre Laurent Pelly’s lively production certainly hits the spot.

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More on Diana Damrau
Damrau / Pikulski @ Wigmore Hall, London
Damrau / Calleja @ The Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy (online)
Lucia di Lammermoor @ Royal Opera House, London
La traviata @ Royal Opera House, London
L’elisir d’amore @ Royal Opera House, London