Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ah, the Elisir at DNO

DNO – Het Muziektheater
Attended: 6/11/2009

Adina – Valentina Farcas
Nemorino – Dmitry Korchak
Belcore – Tommi Hakala
Il dottor Dulcamara – Lucio Gallo
Gianetta – Renate Arends

Nederlands Kamerorkest, cond. Daniele Callegari
Directed by: Guy Joosten

I was always convinced that it is extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible, to ruin a Donizetti opera. Now, that faith had been rather extremely shaken last January, when I witnessed two singers of some stature break down in an opera house of, well, some stature as well (i.e. Villazon and Netrebko in the Met Lucia di Lammermoor). Anyway, that’s beside the point. The actual point that I’m trying to make here is that a production such as this promised to be a crazy travesty. Just have a look at the trailer:

But you know what, it was an absolutely GREAT travesty that actually worked! I really enjoyed it from the first minute to the very last. The focus of the production – Dulcamara as some sort of slick salesman straight out of a RAI studio, attended by showgirls and boys – actually worked. It was recognizable, yet crazy, and somehow really resonated with what we know from various shopping channels etc. We started to understand how the entire village comes to believe in the powers of a bottle of bordeaux. The important thing, however, is that the glitter and glamour didn’t constantly take up the scene: there was certainly plenty of room (and relative calm) for developing the Adina-Nemorino love story more or less credibly.

The singing was amazing, and the surprise of the evening came in the form of Dmitry Korchak (Nemorino). It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he is on his way to a very successful career in opera. His una furtiva lagrima was really as great as one could hope – even his long-held pianissimos just soared through the hall. Now to the other cast members: I had heard Romanian soprano Valentina Farcas (Adina) last year in die Fledermaus (Adele) and I have to say that her singing is almost palpably getting better and better. She treated us to some amazing singing (and the Adina attitude to match!), so only praise here as well. Lucio Gallo (Dulcamara) also deserves nothing but praise. Certain Youtube material from very long ago (heck, it stars the man singing Dulcamara to Pavarotti’s Nemorino) had me sort of worrying: the voice sounded tired and strained. But whatever that was, it luckily seems to have passed away, for Gallo really brought down the house. Unfortunately, Gallo won’t be here for the second run of Elisir in June/July, but he will be singing Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West next month (an entirely different role, which I hope he will pull off as successfully as he did this one). Tommi Hakala did his job very well, but didn’t shine as much as the others did (although he certainly did not drown). Renate Arends also did well, but Gianetta is such a small role that it’s difficult to really comment on. The only problem that does need some attention is that maestro Callegari was out of sync with the singers early on in the opera, and some tempi simply went a bit awry.

So, if anyone were to ask me whether or not they should go to L’Elisir in June/July, I’d definitely say ‘YES’. Heck, I’ve even got my July tickets at the ready!

Rating: 4/5

My reviews of La Bartoli (WOW!) and Salome (er…yeah) will be coming shortly!

Adina (Farcas) and Nemorino (Korchak) post-Nemorino's sip of the elisir.

Il Dottore's (Gallo) entrance!

Dulcamara (Gallo) trying to sell Adina (Farcas) some Elisir, attended by men... lots of men!

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