L’Elisir d’Amore at Opera Holland Park
The fifth opera in Opera Holland Park’s summer 2013 season, Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore is a perfect watch for a hot summer’s evening. Conducted by Steven Higgins and directed by Pia Furtado, this story unfolds into a tangled love story set in the Basque region, however this is not obviously portrayed in the set design and it is of course sung in Italian.
One of Donizetti’s best known works from his collection of more than 70, this is one of his many melodramma giocoso (each act works up to a dramatic climax) and it does not disappoint. With only two acts, the drama and the sound levels build and build to an impressive conclusion, accompanied beautifully by the City of London Sinfonia.
Leslie Travers set design was somewhat of an unexpected choice for this old tale: it appears very modern. However, when the opera moves into the second act the whole production has a more authentic feel – albeit it with a modern twist. The set seems very practical and minimalist rather than highly decorative.
Aldo Di Toro’s Nemorino was the star of the show with a hugely powerful voice and an equally impressive acting presence that encourages the audience to feel a real emotional attachment to him. Adina, on the other hand, played by Sarah Tynan can come across as too coquettish, and, alongside the macho Sergeant Belcore, the scenes can feel slightly disjointed.
In the first act the chorus tends to feel almost amateurish and this is not helped by the low budget appearance of the costumes. By the second act, the opera eases into its flow and the production seems to be tighter, the acting less forced, and the relationships between the characters are stronger.
Throughout there are twists in this story, always peppered with a sense of the light-hearted through jokes, quite brilliant acting and costume alterations. The stunning performance by Geoffrey Dolton of the meddling Dulcamara also adds to the humour in this opera.
Although not without its flaws this opera is extremely entertaining; the performance is carried by the subtleties and genuine humour from Aldo Di Toro as well as Geoffrey Dolton – all in all a lovely way to spend a long summer evening in a gorgeous park.
L’Elisir d’Amore is at Opera Holland Park until 3rd August 2013. For further information or to book visit Opera Holland Park’s website here.