Opera of the Month

L’elisir d’amore

We take a look at Annabel Arden’s much loved production of L’elisir d’amore. Subscribers can watch now on Glyndebourne Encore.

Every month on Glyndebourne Encore – our new streaming service – we’ll be shining the spotlight on an opera, offering you deeper insights into extraordinary productions.

June’s Opera of the Month on Glyndebourne Encore is Annabel Arden’s joyous production of L’elisir d’amore.

Over on Glyndebourne Encore, subscribers can watch L’elisir d’amore in full, and enjoy an exclusive introduction from opera specialist Alexandra Coghlan who talks to musicologist Dr Flora Willson and novelist Amanda Craig to explore Donizetti’s blissful big-hearted opera.

Brief introduction:

One of opera’s great romantic comedies, L’elisir d’amore was the biggest success of Donizetti’s career – a work bursting with sunshine, melody and joy. Soft-hearted and sweet-natured, there’s a tenderness to this musical picture of small-town life and love that is impossible to resist, as well as an anarchic comedy that sweeps you along in its exuberant wake.

L’elisir d’amore, Festival 2009 | Photo by Simon Annard

Nemorino loves Adina. Beautiful, popular and a landowner, she is a dream that seems well beyond his reach. A visiting quack rolls into town and sells Nemorino a potion he promises will win her heart. Complications, collisions and chaos ensue, and Adina becomes engaged – to someone else. But just as Nemorino despairs of ever getting his happy ending, the clouds lift and his devotion is rewarded.

L’elisir is an exhilarating mixture of musical styles, taking its audience from giddy, knock-about farce to heartfelt sincerity. Colourful orchestration helps paint a lively, affectionate scene of rural life, busy with eccentricity, emotion and comic escapades.

You can find out more about L’elisir d’amore in this episode of our podcast:

Why not to miss it:

L’elisir d’amore, Festival 2009 | Photo by Simon Annard

Since its premiere in 2007, Annabel Arden’s L’elisir d’amore has become a real Glyndebourne classic, beloved for its warmth and sunny good humour. Relocating the action to Italy in the 1940s, Arden preserves the opera’s original small-town sweetness, its sense of dusty hopefulness and optimism, but spices it with just a hint of 20th-century politics.

Adina’s handsome suitor Belcore is a soldier, and the black uniforms that he and the rest of his platoon wear nod to the fascism whose spread across Europe during the 1940s would threaten and ultimately destroy such communities. The sense of a rural idyll, of joyful innocence, is painfully intensified by the knowledge that it cannot endure.

Cast and creative team:

Acclaimed Italian conductor Maurizio Benini makes his Glyndebourne debut in Donizetti’s intoxicating and deeply touching opera, whose fast-moving comic story unfolds the romantic rivalry between penniless farmhand and bumptious soldier, both vying for the love of Adina. Will the bogus Dr Dulcamara’s potion – the elixir of love – help farmhand Nemorino win her heart? Peter Auty takes the role of Nemorino with Ekaterina Siurina as Adina.

“It is a beautifully achieved piece of work. … Peter Auty’s Nemorino is world-class in his vocal accomplishment and touching presentation of the character’s plight. Alfredo Daza sounds exactly the right notes of God’s gift to women bumptiousness and fundamental decency with his good-looking, healthy sounding Sergeant Belcore. Luciano Di Pasquale hits the spot as the fake potion seller Dulcamara, bringing colour and vivacity to his every appearance. The chorus are marvellous. Maurizio Benini maintains lively music-making in the pit.” The Stage

A great moment to look out for:

The arrival of travelling salesman and quack Dr Dulcamara is one of the great operatic entrances, and Annabel Arden’s production captures beautifully the sense of excitement and wonder that this eccentric personality generates in this small, sleepy Italian town.

Dulcamara’s silent assistant (part-acrobat, part ringmaster) clears the way for the imposing arrival of this larger-than-life figure whose famous elixir promises to cure everything from hair-loss and wrinkles to rickets and infertility – all of which is advertised to the villagers with the aid of some handy cinematic projection.

This is some of Donizetti’s most buoyant and vividly characterised music. Dulcamara is a born showman, a man who could sell ice to the Eskimos, and his ‘Udite, udite O rustici!’ (‘Listen, all you peasants’) offers a vivid introduction both to his character and to his products – advertised in the light-footed patter-song that follows, whose chattering speed and catchy melody sweep away all doubts and objections before them.

Subscribe to Glyndebourne Encore to watch L’elisir d’amore now!

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