Introducing... L’elisir d’amore
As part of our Introducing… Tour 2019 series we take a look at Annabel Arden’s much loved production of L’elisir d’amore.
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.
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:
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.
Alexandra Coghlan introduces all three of this year’s Tour productions in this short video:
Cast and creative team:
‘A bundle of joyous laughs from start to finish’ (The Daily Express), Annabel Arden’s ebullient production of L’elisir returns to the Glyndebourne Tour conducted by award-winning young talent and newly appointed Principal Conductor of the Glyndebourne Tour Ben Glassberg, whose ‘warmth’ (Opera Online) and ‘precise, demanding presence’ (The Arts Desk) have already drawn praise from critics.
Korean tenor Sehoon Moon, an impressive Italian Tenor in 2018’s Der Rosenkavalier, returns to sing the lovelorn Nemorino. Italian soprano Benedetta Torre takes the role of the flirtatious Adina, with fast-rising British baritone Matthew Durkan – praised previously for his ‘comic flair’ (The Telegraph) – as her swaggering soldier-suitor Belcore. Both are making their Glyndebourne debuts.
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.
Image credits: L’elisir d’amore header, painted collage by Shadric Toop | L’elisir d’amore, Tour 2007, photos by Mike Hoban | Ben Glassberg on stage during Tour 2018’s La traviata: Behind the Curtain, photo by Tristram Kenton