THE HANGOVER REPORT – Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE receives an appealing revival, courtesy of Bartlett Sher, from a solid cast

Matthew Polenzani and Pretty Yende in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Matthew Polenzani and Pretty Yende in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Tonight, I caught a performance of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore at the Metropolitan Opera, in a refreshingly traditional, intimate staging by go-to Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher (he’ll be represented back at Lincoln Center at the Beaumont in a few months with the much anticipated Broadway revival of My Fair Lady). After having experienced Wagner’s weighty Parsifal just two days ago, seeing Donizetti’s light but sensationally scored rom-com of an opera was a drastic but welcome contrast, despite a comic reference to the “Tristan and Isolde” legend. My only qualm about the pleasing production is that Mr. Sher’s staging is pitched to the audience like a Broadway musical, which at times has a tendency to get lost in the the mammoth auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera.

The cast for this season’s run of L’Elisir d’Amore is mostly very good, even if the overall effect lacked a bit of the sparkle and effervescence of the staging when it was new five years ago. As the sought-after country girl Adina, South African Pretty Yende possesses a plush, full soprano that only occasionally sounded forced. Nevertheless, she’s a natural stage presence, and I look forward to seeing more of her  (she’ll be sharing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, another Donizetti opera, albeit a tragedy, later this season at the Met). Returning to the role of the befuddled, Adina-smitten Nemorino (which he originated in Mr. Sher’s staging) is sturdy tenor Matthew Polenzani, and he was just awesome tonight. His rendition of “Una furtiva lagrima” was just about perfection, as was the rest of his effortless, charismatic performance. Rounding out the cast are a pair of Italians, baritone Davide Luciano and bass Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as the sergeant Belcore and Dr. Dulcamara, respectively. Both were appealing, if just serviceable in their showy roles.

In his Met debut, the handsome and youthful Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan led the consistently excellent Met Orchestra in a buoyant reading of Donizetti’s invigorating score.




The Metropolitan Opera
2 hours, 45 minutes (with one intermission)
Through February 17

Categories: Music, Opera, Other Music

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