To Glyndebourne again for the second of this year’s Tour offerings. What a difference a week makes. Annabel Arden’s 2007 production of L’elisir d’amore is justly popular, though this is the first time the MAE’s have seen the whole show. They did see one very tempting act in a cover singers rehearsal (arranged by the Friends of the Towner) on June 30th 2011. The whole evening was a treat. The set is a very convincing reconstruction of a southern Italian village square complete with a rather time-worn palazzo - all peeling plaster and paint.
In the two main romantic roles Glyndebourne has managed to unearth two quite outstanding young singer / actors who really lift the spirits. The production opens with Adina (Italian soprano Benedetta Torre), whose palace it is, sitting in a window, reading about Tristan and Isolde, while her lovesick peasant suitor Nemorino (South Korean tenor Seehoon Moon) looks on admiringly from below. They really are the perfect pair for the roles. Torre manages a winning combination of believing herself somewhat above her young ammiratore but remaining sympathetic to his predicament. The role of the ingenu Nemorino could have been written for Moon. Small of stature he retains the keenness of a terrier dog in his belief that Adina will fall for him in the end, despite her constant rejection. In the first act Adina, looking for something better, is flattered by and agrees to marry Belcore, an army sergeant with a highly inflated opinion of himself and his status. He is played, just the right side of irksomeness, by English baritone Matthew Durkan. When Nemorio hears of the impending marriage he is (temporarily) distraught and seeks the help of the quack medicine purveyor Dr. Dulcamara who passes off a bottle of some ordinary Bordeaux wine as the original and genuine love potion of Queen Isolde. (I’ve long wondered why, in an Italian opera it isn’t Chianti say or Barolo. Perhaps it is intended by Donizetti and his librettist Romani as a humorous and patriotic slight against French wine.) Dulcamara is played with great aplomb by the larger than life Georgian baritone Misha Kiria. This strong cast of principals is completed by French actor and mime artist Maxime Nourissat as Dulcamara’s anfractuous (Oooh!) assistant. Conductor Ben Glassberg, the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra and Glyndebourne Chorus were all at their best.
The whole show is fast paced and packed with fun. I particularly enjoyed a wonderful trio in the second act with dance movements that could have come straight from the Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t miss a trick. A perfect way to introduce someone young or old to opera. (*****)
The tour continues to Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Liverpool and Norwich. (See the Glyndebourne website for details).