L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2014Posted on 19 November 2014
With Lucy Crowe, Vittorio Grigolo and Bryn Terfel this was quite a cast, and under revival director Daniel Dooner they made the most of Laurent Pelly’s delightful production.
In Act I the bikes, the dog, the funny swaying movements of the chorus, and the tiny version of Dulcamara’s van at the end all add colour, and in Act II I loved the interaction between Lucy Crowe and Bryn Terfel, whose sudden scissor jump onto the small wooden stage was a moment of sheer joy. There are other singers who can give life and levity to Dulcamara, but no one does it better than Terfel, and his effortless vocal command of the role made this a memorable performance.
As Adina, Lucy Crowe’s sprightly firmness with Nemorino contrasted well with the swaying lyricism of her Chiedi all’aura lusinghiera (Ask the gentle breeze), and in Act II when Dulcamara helps her see the true value of the young man’s constancy her transformation was beautifully wrought. Levente Molnár sang with fine technique as Sergeant Belcore, strutting the stage with great confidence though I would have preferred more vocal swagger. No such problem with Vittorio Grigolo, for whom Nemorino is an ideal role. The beauty and strength of his voice allowed him to express sensitivity as well as a robust masculinity, occasionally too much so and the duet with Belcore in Act II slightly lost balance. Yet after the lovely interlude between Dulcamara and Adina that marks a turning point in the opera, his Una furtive lagrima was superbly rendered.
Conducting by ex-ROH Young Artist Daniele Rustioni gave real feeling to Donizetti’s music, albeit with occasional disjunctions between singers and orchestra, and the chorus showed admirable attack when appropriate. Altogether an Elisir up there with the best, particularly for the powerful singing of Vittorio Grigolo and the superbly nuanced interactions and performances of Bryn Terfel and Lucy Crowe.
Performances continue on various dates until December 13, with a live cinema relay on November 26, and a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast on November 29 — for details click here.