Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Cooperstown and the Hood

Glimmerglass Festival continues its string of world premiere youth operas with a wholly enchanting production of Ben Moore and Kelly Rourke’s Robin Hood.

Glimmerglass Oklahoma: Yeow!

Director Molly Smith knew just how to best succeed at staging the evergreen classic Oklahoma! for Glimmerglass Festival.

An Invitation to Travel: Christiane Karg and Malcolm Martineau at the Proms

German soprano Christiane Karg invited us to accompany her on a journey during this lunchtime chamber music Prom at Cadogan Hall as she followed the voyages of French composers in Europe and beyond, and their return home.

Schoenberg's Gurrelieder at the Proms - Sir Simon Rattle

Prom 46: Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, Simon O'Neill, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Karen Cargill, Peter Hoare, Christopher Purves and Thomas Quasthoff. And three wonderful choirs - the CBSO Chorus, the London Symphony Chorus and Orfeó Català from Barcelona, with Chorus Master Simon Halsey, Rattle's close associate for 35 years.

Le Siège de Corinthe in Pesaro

That of Rossini (in French) and that of Lord Byron (in English, Russian, Italian and Spanish), the battles of both Negroponte (1470) and of Missolonghi (1826) re-enacted amidst massive piles of plastic water bottles (thousands of them) that collapsed onto the heroine at Mahomet II's destruction of Corinth.

Dunedin Consort perform Bach's St John Passion at the Proms

John Butt and the Dunedin Consort's 2012 recording of Bach's St John Passion was ground-breaking for it putting the passion into the context of a reconstruction of the original Lutheran Vespers service.

Collision: Spectra Ensemble at the Arcola Theatre

‘Asteroid flyby in October: A drill for the end of the world?’ So shouted a headline in USA Today earlier this month, as journalist Doyle Rice asked, ‘Are we ready for an asteroid impact?’ in his report that in October NASA will conduct a drill to see how well its planetary defence system would work if an actual asteroid were heading straight for Earth.

Joshua Bell offers Hispanic headiness at the Proms

At the start of the 20th century, French composers seemed to be conducting a cultural love affair with Spain, an affair initiated by the Universal Exposition of 1889 where the twenty-five-year old Debussy and the fourteen-year-old Ravel had the opportunity to hear new sounds from East Asia, such as the Javanese gamelan, alongside gypsy flamenco from Granada.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Hibiki: a European premiere by Mark-Anthony Turnage at the Proms

Hibiki: sound, noise, echo, reverberation, harmony. Commissioned by the Suntory Hall in Tokyo to celebrate the Hall’s 30th anniversary in 2016, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s 50-minute Hibiki, for two female soloists, children’s chorus and large orchestra, purports to reflect on the ‘human reverberations’ of the Tohoku earthquake in 2011 and the devastation caused by the subsequent tsunami and radioactive disaster.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

Janáček: The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Grimeborn

A great performance of Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared can be, allowing for the casting of a superb tenor, an experience on a par with Schoenberg’s Erwartung. That Shadwell Opera’s minimalist, but powerful, staging in the intimate setting of Studio 2 of the Arcola Theatre was a triumph was in no small measure to the magnificent singing of the tenor, Sam Furness.

Khovanshchina: Mussorgsky at the Proms

Remembering the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this Proms performance of Mussorgsky’s mighty Khovanshchina (all four and a quarter hours of it) exceeded all expectations on a musical level. And, while the trademark doorstop Proms opera programme duly arrived containing full text and translation, one should celebrate the fact that - finally - we had surtitles on several screens.

Santa Fe: Entertaining If Not Exactly (R)evolutionary

You know what I loved best about Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs?

Longborough Young Artists in London: Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice

For the last three years, Longborough Festival Opera’s repertoire of choice for their Young Artist Programme productions has been Baroque opera seria, more specifically Handel, with last year’s Alcina succeeding Rinaldo in 2014 and Xerxes in 2015.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Full-throated Cockerel at Santa Fe

A tale of a lazy, befuddled world leader that ‘has no clothes on’ and his two dimwit sons, hmmmm, what does that remind me of. . .?

Santa Fe’s Trippy Handel

If you don’t like a given moment in Santa Fe Opera’s staging of Alcina, well, just like the volatile mountain weather, wait two minutes and it will surely change.

Santa Fe’s Crowd-Pleasing Strauss

With Die Fledermaus’ thrice familiar overture still lingering in our ears, it didn’t take long for the assault of hijinks to reduce the audience into guffaws of delight.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Gaetano Donizetti: L'Elisir d'amore
07 Aug 2009

Donizetti: L'Elisir d'amore

For adherents of the prima voce school of opera appreciation, this Laurent Pelly production of Donizetti's comic masterpiece may not hold that much appeal.

Gaetano Donizetti: L'Elisir d'amore

Aleksandra Zamojska, Laurent Naouri, Paul Groves, Heidi Grant Murphy, Ambrogio Maestri. Paris Opera Chorus, Paris Opera Orchestra. Edward Gardner, conducting.

Bel Air Classiques BAC040 [DVD]

$42.49  Click to buy

The singers delivery professional performances, and rising conductor Edward Gardner treats Donizetti’s score to an energetic, vibrant workover. The greatest impression and delight, however, comes from Pelly’s cinematic detail and his natural, inspired work with the leads and chorus. This DVD could become a textbook chapter on how to make singers live in their characters whether singing or not, while supplying a stage picture that captures the attention without fussy activity or distractions. Possessing charm and sensitivity, and fantasy and realism, Pelly’s L’Elisir d’amore makes for a very fine show.

Pelly updates the action to a farm town sometime in the mid-20th century. With the two strawberry-haired American leads, Paul Groves and Heidi Grant Murphy, we might almost be in Kansas, Dorothy - especially with all the haystacks, a mountain of which feature in the opening and closing scenes. However, the language on the buildings and vehicles remains Italian. Pelly designed the costume himself, favoring simple print dresses for the ladies and keeping Groves’s Nemorino in worn khakis and a stained striped t-shirt throughout. In the warm aura provided by Jöel Adam’s lighting, the sets of Chantal Thomas appear real, lived-in.

Wearing a perpetually stupefied look on his wide face, Groves plays Nemorino as none-too-bright, as the libretto demands, and yet so sweet and lovestruck that Adina’s eventual turn toward him and away from the strutting bantam rooster of Laurent Naouri’s Belcore makes perfect sense. Adina doesn’t have a lot of choices in men, and maybe that’s why Pelly has her isolate herself, seeking refuge in the mammoth haystack pile to read her book under the shade of an umbrella. Grant Murphy doesn’t play it cute - her Adina has an edge, and surely part of Nemorino’s attraction stems from a realization that he will need a strong woman by his side. As usually happens, scenes get stolen by the singer portraying Dulcamara, the traveling salesman who provides the title libation that gives Nemorino the liquid fortification to proclaim his love for Adina. Ambrogio Maestri is a big man with a wonderfully supple comic face. His adipose-rich bass voice makes for the performance’s best singing.

Naouri barks a bit too much as Belcore, and neither Groves or Grant Murphy have the most alluring of voices. Groves has reached a point where the freshness of his lyric voice has been supplanted by volume. As a result, “Una furtiva lagrima” is not the showstopper it usually is. Grant Murphy also seems to be relying on projection more than agility to make her points.

At curtain call, perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest hand goes to young conductor Edward Gardner, who has led the forces of the Paris Opera with such tyro enthusiasm.

Donizetti and librettist Felice Romani’s work can be swamped by too much comic invention, and it can also seem too slight in an unimaginative traditional production. Pelly gets it right - the humor, the humanity, the heat. Recommended.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):