Take one Donizetti opera, add an innovative and quite stylish director, throw in a stunning soprano, a jolly good tenor and a few other quality single-malt singers and if you don’t think it’s already an embarrassing feast, you can top it off with a jack russell that runs across the stage at comedy moments…
L’Elisir d’Amore at Covent Garden. The Pelly production from last year, with new cast. Set in the 50s, it has the trademark quirks, but is brilliantly executed. Bicycles, mopeds, a lorry and a tractor wheel onto stage and off again at appropriate moments, ‘driven’ by the cast. The aforementioned dog does its tricks, and a giant haystack dominates a couple of scenes (to the detriment of vocal projection, but to good atmospheric effect).
Crowning the cast was Diana Damrau. Just amazing – so characterful, with such fabulous singing – beautiful and spirited in all the right places. She was a delight to watch and listen to. The Nemorino, Giuseppe Filianotti, was also tremendously characterful, if the voice was a little strained in places. He delivered Una Furtiva Lagrima very well, aided by the production’s clever and effective descending ‘forest’ of light bulbs that added the atmosphere. Anthony Michaels-Moore and Simone Alaimo were a good Belcore and Dulcamara and the whole thing was driven with just the right pace and balance by Bruno Campanella, with an orchestra on fine form (as we have come to expect…!)
I was struck, though, by Eri Nakamura. I think she’s a Jette Parker Young Artist (or maybe was last year) but she has a voice of wonderful richness, agility and projection. Would be interested to hear her Rosina, not sure if that’s the direction she’s headed in, but it was a very enjoyable performance of Gianetta this evening… many best wishes to her for the future, for sure!