Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

Il Trovatore at Dutch National Opera

Four lonely people, bound by love and fate, with inexpressible feelings that boil over in the pressure cooker of war. Àlex Ollé’s conception of Il Trovatore for Dutch National Opera hits the bull’s eye.

The Barber of Seville, ENO London

This may be the twelfth revival of Jonathan Miller’s 1987 production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for English National Opera, but the ready laughter from the auditorium and the fresh musical and dramatic responses from the stage suggest that it will continue to amuse audiences and serve the house well for some time to come.

Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Bostridge, Barbican London

The third and final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s survey of Monteverdi’s operas at the Barbican began and ended in darkness; the red glow of the single candle was an apt visual frame for a performance which was dedicated to the memory of the late Andrew Porter, the music critic and writer whose learned, pertinent and eloquent words did so much to restore Monteverdi, Cavalli and other neglected music-dramatists to the operatic stage.

English Touring Opera - Debussy, Massenet and Offenbach

English Touring Opera’s recent programming has been ambitious and inventive, and the results have been rewarding. We had two little-known Donizetti operas, The Siege of Calais and The Wild Man of the West Indies, in spring 2015, while autumn 2014 saw the company stage comedy by Haydn (Il mondo della luna) and romantic history by Handel (Ottone).

Verismo Double Header in Los Angeles

LA Opera got its season off to an auspicious beginning with starry revivals of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

On September 9, 2015, Opera Las Vegas presented James Sohre’s production of Viva Verdi at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. It was a delightful evening of arias, duets and ensembles by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The program included many of the composer’s blockbuster arias and scenes from famous operas such as Aida, La traviata, and Macbeth.

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

On Saturday, September 19, San Diego Opera opened its 2015-2016 season with a recital by tenor René Barbera. This was the first Polly Puterbaugh Emerging Artist Award Recital and no artist could have been more deserving than the immensely talented Barbera.

Sweeney Todd at the San Francisco Opera

Did the iconic “off-beat” and “serious” American musical hold the stage of the War Memorial Opera House? The excited audience (standees three deep) thought so and roared their appreciation.

Wigmore Hall Complete Schubert Song Series begins with Boesch and Johnson

The Wigmore Hall, London, has launched Schubert : The Complete Songs, a 40-concert series to run through the 2015 and 2016 seasons. There have been Schubert marathons before, like BBC Radio 3's all-Schubert week and The Oxford Lieder Festival's Schubert series last year, but the Wigmore Hall series will be a major landmark because the Wigmore Hall is the Wigmore Hall, the epitome of excellence.

Luisa Miller in San Francisco

Luisa Miller sits on the fringes of the repertory, and since its introduction into the modern repertory in the 1970’s it comes around every 15 or so years. Unfortunately this 2015 San Francisco occasion has not bothered to rethink this remarkable opera.

Salieri: La grotta di Trofonio (Trofonio’s Cave)

Demonised by Pushkin and Peter Shaffer, Antonio Salieri lives in the public imagination as the embittered rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — whose genius he lamented and revered in equal measure, and against whom he schemed and plotted at the Emperor Joseph II’s Viennese court.

Chicago Lyric’s Stars Shine at Millennium Park

The annual concert given by Lyric Opera of Chicago as an outdoor event previewing the forthcoming season took place on 11 September 2015 at Millennium Park.

Gluck: Orphée et Eurydice

Orpheus — that Greek hero whose songs could enchant both deities and beasts, whose lyre has become a metaphor for the power of music itself, and whose journey to the Underworld to rescue his wife, Eurydice, kick-started the art of opera in Mantua in 1607 — has been travelling far and wide around the UK in 2015.

Vaughan Williams and Holst Double Bill

One is a quasi-verbatim rendering of J.M. Synge’s bleak tale of a Donegal family’s fateful dependency on and submission to the deathly power of the sea.

Iestyn Davies at Wigmore Hall

Is there anything that countertenor Iestyn Davies cannot do with his voice?

Prom 75: The Dream of Gerontius

BBC Proms Youth Choir shines in a performance notable for its magical transparency

Prom 67: Bernstein — Stage and Screen

The John Wilson Orchestra have been annual summer visitors to the Royal Albert Hall since their Proms debut in 2009 and, with their seductive blend of technical precision, buoyant glitziness and relaxed insouciance, their concerts have become a hugely anticipated fixture and a sure highlight of the Promenade season.

Prom 65: Alice Coote sings Handel

Disappointing staging mars Alice Coote’s vibrant if wayward musical performance

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.



Susana Diaz [Photo courtesy of Daroca Artists International]
29 Aug 2011

L’elisir d’amore, Miami

“The number of recordings testify to the continuing popularity of Donizetti’s melodrama in two acts [L’elisir d’amore], which rivals Don Pasquale among his comic operas and is often rated the better on account of its superior libretto by Felice Romani.”

Gaetano Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore

Adina: Jessica Slatkoff Arteaga / Susana Diaz; Nemorino: David Pereira; Dulcamara: Oscar Martinez; Belcore: Daniel Snodgrass; Gianetta: Rebekah Diaz / Daisy Su; Notaro: Jesus Gonzalez. Miami Lyric Opera. Conductor: Beverly Coulter. Director: Raffaele Cardone. Chorus Master: Pablo Hernandez.

Above: Susana Diaz [Photo courtesy of Daroca Artists International]

All other photos courtesy of Miami Lyric Opera


Noel Goodwin’s observation is as topical today as it was in the early 1990’s: L’elisir shared the rank of sixth most produced opera in 2010 according to records compiled by Opera America; another resource that is gaining more credibility from opera scholars, OperaBase, finds that Donizetti’s bel canto comedy placed 12th on the list of most performed operas in the world from 2005-2010. In the recording (audio and video) annuls, L’elisir has a steady hold as each new generation of star singers commits their artistry to posterity in the work.

Pereira.gifDavid Pereira

Note that Goodwin ascribes credit for L’elisir ‘s hold in the repertoire to Romani’s text. Felice Romani was a librettist’s librettist. He wrote nearly 100, collaborating most notably with Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti. L’elisir , with a musical surface — from its melodies — best described as lightweight and a base — from Donizetti’s chords — best described as solemn, will transmit its meanings best through words. Perhaps more than in any other opera, the means of its exposition can confuse — L’elisir’s story is primed to be misunderstood. That said, it’s a good thing that Romani’s text for L’elisir is playful, sarcastic and worldly. And, it’s a good thing that supertitles are up and running at Colony Theater for Miami Lyric Opera.

Individual performances brought this L’elisir to life despite listless stage action and sets (by Carlos Arditti) that did little, and indeed this is often the case in this opera’s productions, to lift la commedia. Belcore probably just pulled the weeds he so sloppily shoved in Adina’s hands; she, taking one look at the dry shrubs and, with some annoyance delivered her, “well, isn’t he modest”; Nemorino, packing a few extra pounds after his drinking binge, was a nicely engorged fellow that seemed genuinely altered pitching the line, “I’ve had plenty of this elixir”; the blueprints for laughter were sketched but the whole performance was missing jocular bite in the theater.

On its own, Donizetti’s music for L’elisir is peppered with “shiny happy people” quality, but the feel of the music can suggest a graver situation as it did on the night of August 13th, MLO’s second and final showing of L’elisir. It is not surprising that the orchestra sounded as polished as it did given that MLO music director and conductor Dr. Beverly Coulter was at the baton. A staunch promoter of and regular fixture in the classical music scene in south Florida, maestra Coulter is a musician’s musician. Coulter is the head of an opera program at a small university, having had the likes of soprano Elizabeth Caballero in her studio. Soprano Coulter has a singing CV herself; for MLO, she will repeat the lead in Marina (the Arrieta zarzuela) in a free outdoor concert presented by the company in November.

MLOElisirTrio.gifDavid Pereira (Nemorino), Susana Diaz (Adina), and Belcore (Daniel Snodgrass)

Coulter’s approach leans toward the technical, and she keeps a close watch over the stage; L’elisir’s many ensembles were models in keeping time with singers. The volume produced from instrumentalists was heavy (so much so that crescendos were hard to come by), the orchestral mechanics were tight. The playing included lustrous solo flute (Robert Billington) and harp (Ana Maria Bolivar) playing in the overture. Secco recitatives came from an electronic harpsichord behind the stage.

One factor that helped this evening was the chemistry that built up between principals Susana Diaz (Adina) and David Pereira (Nemorino). Diaz the distant “realist,” Pereira the defocused naïve — they became more involved, more comfortable, and by the end of the first act their teaming turned pleasing. In Adina, Romani created a wily fox. Though easier sung than portrayed, Daiz managed a bit of that in scoffing at Nemorino’s one-woman ways, “try my way, change lovers every day.” Program posters like the exotic good looks that Diaz has and, on the vocal front, she displayed control up to and over high C in a sweet “Prendi, per me sei libero.”

Pereira began the night with a shaky “Quanto è bella, quanto è cara.” Before long though, the light lyric tenor’s timbre warmed and his singing was more secure, although pinched acuti hung about. Lighting specialist Kevin Roman put a spotlight on Pereira to an otherwise darkened stage for “Una furtiva lagrima;” the tenor was hesitant through the first few bars, then getting a hold of the familiar aria, gave it with personal touch.

MLOSnodDiaz.gifBelcore (Daniel Snodgrass and Adina (Susana Diaz)

MLO sported a good singing Belcore and a strong singing-actor as Dulcamara — done spiritedly, either of these roles can easily run away with this show because of the rhyming verse that Romani supplies them. “A woman is a creature who defies understanding,” bemoaned Daniel Snodgrass, whose sound might be confused for a tenor’s. Not a problem for Belcore, whose music Snodgrass sings with strict passage work. Snodgrass gets much work in this area and has been with MLO since its first season. Of all the performers this evening, Oscar Martinez (Dulcamara) appeared to enjoy himself most. His knowledge of the role, and with the buffo aesthetic, is firm. Gianetta sets the tone early in this opera with her words, “what’s so funny?” A past MLO contributor, Daisy Su as Gianetta — Adina’s close friend — did well in her moments at center stage.

Another strength of this L’elisir was the MLO chorus — they sang clearly and strongly and took advantage of their conspicuous presence in the Donizetti opera. Entranced with Adina, they sang out Romani’s Italian for, “let us hear what you are reading.” Congratulations chorus master Pablo Hernandez.

A recent high school graduate with operatic aspirations, Jesus Gonzalez came off as a parody of the notary — the costume (by Pamela De Vercelly), and moustache, hung over Gonzalez a few sizes large. Chorus member Jared Peroune was an high-spirited fez-wearing spotter for Dulcamara.

MLOElisirDulcamara.gifDulcamara (Oscar Martinez)

If Donizetti’s part in L’elisir leaves listeners puzzled vis a vis the point of the story, Romani’s libretto activates the morals to be extracted. That charlatano, that slippery-wise Dulcamara brings you a big one: “It is risky business to try to buy or sell love.”

Robert Carreras

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):