The vibrant revival of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore from 2007 is a brilliant production by Laurent Pelly, sets by Chantal Thomas, with the action set in 1950s Italy, and the update working marvellously. Costumes are colourful and there are plenty of sight gags. The cast principals are all fully engaged in the physical athleticism and good-humoured fun of the staging.
This cast is splendid – the heroine, Adina, is English soprano Lucy Crowe, even-voiced and sparkling in ‘coloratura’ and warm in feeling. The hero, Nemorino, a bit of a country bumpkin, is Vittorio Grigolo a marvellous young Italian tenor, a matinee idol in looks with voice and expression to set hearts ablaze. Grigolo does a very sensitive and moving performance of Nemorino’s act 2 showpiece Una furtiva lagrima – no mere empty vocal display.
Coming between them is the dashing sergeant, Belcore, who obviously has a way with the girls and makes a serious play for Adina. He is well characterised by Romanian baritone Levente Molnár. Completing the mix is mountebank medicine-man Doctor Dulcamara, pedlar of the elixir of the title. He is a lovable rogue who acts as a catalyst in the romance. Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel plays him superbly, singing the patter-song to perfection.
The ROH chorus are well directed in the lively action. The orchestra is conducted with sparkle and bounce by another young but seasoned musician Daniele Rustioni who has already done Aida here.
With a dash of warmth and young love, L’elisir is great fun and enjoyable for anybody who likes opera/operettas.
The Royal Opera House: www.roh.org.uk
Dr Richard Regan is a retired consultant in general medicine and medicine for the elderly.