SUN-BLEACHED, macho, swaggering and lush – Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore blazed so brightly it radiated an Italian summer heat across the unseasonally soggy Glyndebourne gardens.
The revival of Annabel Arden’s 2007 Glyndebourne on Tour production is a triumph.
Spectacular singing, an atmospheric, fairy-lit set, the inspired conducting of original conductor Enrique Mazzola and Mrs Gus Christie herself, Danielle de Niese who made her bel canto opera debut as Adina.
How can any woman be so talented....and so beautiful?
She strolled onto the stage wearing drab khaki, stuck her feet into a stone trough and pumped water over them.
The audience nearly fainted with joy.
But Adina’s love interest, American lyric tenor Stephen Costello as Nemorino made his Glyndebourne debut by matching her frivolous feminity with a powerfully eloquent shot of testosterone.
In fact the hormone was washing over the production by the interval, thanks to Rodion Pogossov’s Sgt Belcore who made his Festival debut after his unforgettable Guglielmo in the 2006 Tour’s Cosi fan tutti. Apart from his brilliantly blazing voice (a given) he’s pretty good at thigh slapping and his long riding boots look great.
So does the scrambled egg on his Mussolini-era black uniform.
Paolo Gavanelli also makes a Glyndebourne debut as the charismatic Dr Dulcamara.
His growling bass added authority to the good doctor’s pitch to flog fake medicines to a credulous village – and then bask in admiration even though he had been unmasked.
His assistant, (James Bellorini) was athletic with his humour, never overplayed, and reminiscent physically of the great Jacques Tati.
L’elisir d’amore is an production which appeals to the uninitiated (it’s colourful, fast and funny) and the more sophisticated opera buff (rhythmically incisive and impeccably sung.)
It tells how Adina first spurns the love of Nemorino and appears to arrange to marry Sgt Belcore mainly to make Nemorino jealous.
Nemorino buys a love potion, the ‘elisir’ of the title, from Dulcamara and is amazed when all the village maidens appear to fall for him.
He alone does not know his wealthy uncle has died bequeathing him all his money.
At the end of course Adina spurns the shallow Belcore and returns to her true love......how long it all lasts, of course, we don’t know, but I’m sure his riches will buy her the glorious gowns and jewellery she deserves. Perhaps a move to Rome might be on the cards?
A beautiful production, supremely delivered by all participants, particularly lighting director Giuseppe Di Iorio who has no problem arranging a welcome blitz of Mediterranean dazzle for us all.