Introducing… L’elisir d’amore
In this instalment of our Introducing… series we take a look at Donizetti’s light and sunny comedy L’elisir d’amore.
In the video below, our resident opera expert, Alexandra Coghlan, explores the opera in depth, with a look at the extraordinarily beautiful aria ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ and a conversation with returning cast member Misha Kiria about the opera’s enduring appeal.
A brief introduction
We’re in Italy, and Nemorino is madly in love with Adina, the girl next door. She’s beautiful, she’s confident, she’s a landowner. As far as Nemorino is concerned, she’s out of his league. When Dulcamara, a travelling quack, arrives in town Nemorino asks him to sell him a love potion, but is everything quite as it seems?
Why not to miss this production
Annabel Arden’s production of L’elisir d’amore premiered at Tour 2007 and has since become a Glyndebourne favourite. She shifts the action from the 18th century to the 1940s, retaining the lively, small-town Italian feel, but we also gain a sense of threat. This innocent way of life is on the brink of destruction – making it all the more precious.
A great moment to look out for
Donizetti was very skilled at using particular instruments to conjure a whole mood. One of the most famous examples of this is the aria ‘Una furtiva lagrima’, which Nemorino sings with a solo bassoon.
Alexandra met up with Jonathan Davies, the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Bassoon, to find out more. ‘I think that he chose [the bassoon] because it’s a good reflection of the tenor’ says Jonathan, ‘the pleading tone and singing register of the instrument really reflects what’s going on on stage’.
You can hear more from Jonathan in the video above, and watch a clip of ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ below.
Cast and creative team
This revival offers a brilliant opportunity to see lots of young talent, and features two casts taking the principal roles across the show’s run.
One of our Adinas, Elbenita Kajtaz, was the winner of the Audience Prize at the first Glyndebourne Opera Cup. Elbenita has had a remarkable journey, finding solace in opera when she was forced to flee her home during the Kosovan War as a child. In the years that followed she became an opera singer and we are delighted to welcome her back to the Glyndebourne stage.
You can enjoy Elbenita’s Opera Cup performance of ‘Deh vieni, non tardar’ from Le nozze di Figaro below.
Also taking the role of Adina is rising star Olga Kulchynska. The Ukrainian soprano will come to Glyndebourne fresh from her Metropolitan Opera debut as Musetta in La bohème. Also making his Glyndebourne debut as one of our Nemorinos is Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan, who comes to Glyndebourne following a run as Alfredo in La traviata at the Royal Opera House.
Two of the summer’s performers return from the opera’s 2019 Tour run – South Korean Sehoon Moon as one of our Nemorinos and Misha Kiria as Dulcamara. In the video above Alexandra caught up with Misha to find out the secret of L’elisir’s continued success and relevance to a contemporary audience.
The production will be under the baton of the exuberant Italian conductor Enrique Mazzola, who worked with Arden on the much-loved production of Il barbiere di Siviglia and has conducted numerous Donizetti operas at the Festival.
Image credits: L’elisir d’amore header, artwork by Shadric Toop | L’elisir d’amore, Tour 2019, photos by Donald Cooper