Donizetti’s love-potion comedy returns as part of the autumn tour repertory in Annabel Arden’s production, which updates the action harmlessly to the mid-20th century. Paul Higgins is in charge of this revival, which at times feels a little over-busy - the chorus has some particularly hyperactive sequences. But the show’s heart - like the opera’s - remains in the right place, and a jolly good time is had by the audience.
A scene from Lâ€™elisir dâ€™amore Photo: Sisi Burn
All of the central performances have strong points. American soprano Joelle Harvey both charms and scintillates as Adina, the sophisticated landowner who eventually realises the true worth of Nemorino, the ordinary guy who loves her from afar. Making his UK debut in this crucial part, Christopher Tiesi still has some work to do in firming up the top register of his genuinely appealing lyric tenor; but his singing steadily improves throughout the show and he ends up winning not just Adina’s heart but the audience’s too.
Also new to British audiences is baritone Alessandro Luongo, an excellent exponent of the role of the fundamentally decent if bumptious soldier Belcore, who thinks he is god’s gift to women; Luongo’s top-quality baritone and good looks bring him significant success. As Dulcamara, the snake-oil merchant whose fake love-potion appears to work the trick for Nemorino, Riccardo Novaro is sharply funny; he’s ably assisted by the brilliant miming of James Bellorini. Sadhbh Dennedy makes a likable Giannetta, though like Tiesi she could do with firmer vocalism. Meanwhile lively conducting from Pablo Gonzalez keeps the delightful score bouncing merrily along.