NEW YORK—Donizetti’s crowd-pleasing opera “L’Elisir d’Amore” (“The Elixir of Love”) combines low comedy and high notes. The story is as silly as many other opera plots, but at least this one is intentionally funny.
A love struck country boy named Nemorino loves the more intelligent Adina—she reads books—but tries to win her over by buying a potion from a con artist. Meanwhile, Adina is being courted by a narcissistic army officer.
The revival at the Metropolitan Opera boasts the same team, Juan Diego Flórez and Diana Damrau, who achieved such success at the house in two of Donizetti’s other comic gems, “The Daughter of the Regiment” and “Count Ory.”
The biggest applause of the evening went to Flórez for his big second act aria, “Una Furtiva Lagrima.”
Damrau can act with charm or knock off lovely arias with a voice that opens up to fill the house, yet she did not match Angela Gheorghiu’s performance as Adina a couple of seasons ago.
Damrau and Flórez had strong support from baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, as the boastful officer Belcore, and from baritone Alessandro Corbelli (whose comic acting surpassed his vocal qualities) as Dr. Dulcamara. Soprano Layla Clare was delightful as Gianetta, a country lass.
John Copley’s production (now staged by Stephen Pickover), with sets and costumes by Beni Montresor, will be replaced with an entirely new production next season.
The set may have seen better days, but when Flórez was on stage spinning those beautiful vocal lines, there was no doubt that he is the world’s leading bel canto tenor. He also demonstrated he is light on his feet with some tricky dance steps. His clowning may have been over the top, but the audience didn’t mind when it heard singing of such a high order.
“L’Elisir d’Amore” will be performed intermittently through March 31 at the Metropolitan Opera. For more information, call 212-362-6000 or visit metopera.org.
Barry Bassis writes about music, theater, travel, and dining for various publications.