Friday, 28 November 2014

Royal Opera House : L'Elisir D'amore at the Cinema Live Screen ★★★★

On 26th November cinemas all over the world screened the much-anticipated opera that many had been looking forward to experiencing, namely the Royal Opera House’s (ROH) production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore (The Love Potion). The opera, first performed at the Teatro della Canobbiana Milan in 1832, has been regarded as many positive things from an ideal first-timers’ opera, a musically enthralling masterpiece with playfulness and a happy-go-lucky spirit given its romantic and ‘love conquers all’ ethos. It comes to no surprise that it was the most popular opera in Italy between 1838 and 1848 and comfortably sits in most opera houses’ repertory. 

The evening was hosted by BBC Radio 4 presenter Martha Kearney who managed to ask a couple of questions to the animated and young Jette Parker Young Artist (of 2008–9) and conductor Daniele Rustoni, as well as accomplished bass singer Bryn Terfel who stated that L’Elisir D’Amore was ‘possibly one of the best operas written.’ He effortlessly sings as the love pharmacist and Doctor Dulcamara in this production as he had done for a Euro-glitzy production at Dutch Opera (Nederlandse Opera) in 2002 impersonating a funky Elvis. He shall be singing the role of Sweeney Todd at the ENO next year with Emma Thompson.
Also, many fans of handsome Vittorio Grigòlo, whose opera career has skyrocketing, would be excited to see him sing amorous arias here as the lead tenor and hapless love puppy Nemorino. 

Director Laurent Pelly intelligently sets our opera in Italy in the 1950s where the countryside is blissful and sun-kissed with a rustic bar called Trattorio, heaps of haystack, Vespa motorbikes and stray dogs reside. Nemorino, the poor farm worker, falls in love seeking desperate measures to be loved in return by Adina. The notable aria Una furtiva lagrima, that your average Joe would recognise, was sung perfectly by Grigòlo as he made the song his own. His voice was made for such a cosmically gorgeous piece of music and the subtle drips of light bulbs that were added by Chantal Thomas symbolise the starry night making it ever more magical.
The farm owner Adina, dressed in a pink floral dress, who plays hard to get with Nemorino - and even suggests living a promiscuous life - is sung by charming English rose Lucy Crowe despite being mean and feisty towards Nemorino in the beginning scenes. Her voice was delectable and something I’d like to hear in a baroque opera by Monteverdi or, perhaps, Handel.
The bad-boy sergeant Belcore is sung by baritone singer Levente Molnár who seems to enjoy gyrated his love parts to the female villagers who Adina uses as a ploy to get Nemorino jealous. Although vocally stale in some parts Molnár played the theatrical part of a militarised Don Giovanni exceedingly well.

The chorus singers also brought masses of entertainment, smiles and enjoyment to the opera and with such charming songs as Bel conforto the merriment spread throughout the cinema screen (and in the ROH auditorium, I am sure!) Rustoni shone his love for the opera as he jumped and conducted like an energising bunny in the pit and the acoustics seemed pretty good from the cinema speakers. (Unfortunately I cannot speak on behalf of the actual acoustics of the ROH as I wasn't there.)
Bring your children! Bring your friends and family members who are new to opera. Its story line is as comprehensible as a modern Rom Com movie and it comes with no frills or fuss but silly funnies to the happiest music, which will pull the sun out of the clouds. What’s even better is there’s a little dog that runs on and off the stage. What more could you ask for? 
Currently showing until the 13th December: Click here for more tickets for the Royal House Performance 
(Photos are courtesy from the Royal Opera House)