Tight, ironic and lively, in white light like a modern Mediterranean theatrical fairy tale made of paper which, far beyond the generic semi-serious Basque and country elegy, with a concrete attitude cuts out styles and characters between the suspensions of dreams and a slightly Turkish, Rossinian and circus. IS The elixir of love Of Gaetano Donizetti on a libretto by Felice Romani reinterpreted by the direction of Roger Hoodtaken up in the third bar with great success and some retouching of the scenic order fromOpera of Rome after the launch in 2011 and the return in 2014 to show off, on the occasion, two significant debuts at the Capitoline Foundation and a remarkable musical line in the best style of bel canto, detached in a rare but perfect understanding between podium and stage.
Overall, the production works well and stands up to the times, beyond some trite excess in the twisted movements and in the face of the continuous juggling in balance between stilts, unicycles, handkerchiefs and flags, crystal balls, skittles, scissor-man, Turks and so on, to which are added the distracting suspended acrobats who to some extent hook the memory of the most in focus clowns by Leoncavallo also in white and released a few months later, but still in 2011, signed by playmaker Finzi Pasca for San Carlo in Naples. Or, again, in view of the irrelevant (albeit impactful) Dulcamara who arrives on his knees like a dwarf in a yellow top hat, dark glasses and cape to then stand up abruptly to present his magical liqueur.
Conversely of absolute enamel is the stylized and clean simplicity guaranteed to the scenes by the always appreciated Nicholas Rubertelli with the groups of small houses like the Sassi of Matera in the background and with the other symbols linked to nature all around, just as functional are the candid village costumes adorned with fruit and flowers on the waistcoat, or imprinted as a decal on the plastic aprons, made from Charles Poggioli contrasting with military-style uniforms Nutcrackerwith Basque outfits and dresses from Entführung next to the effective and changing lights of Vinicio Cheli. The work on the gestural rhythm made by Cappuccio, although present in the theater but not released on stage at the end, is in any case recognizable and constant even if, frankly, it coincides with the climax of the “Furtiva lagrima” – and in our opinion this is true for all the leading singing numbers in any other work – it would always be preferable to leave the scene alone in the score to the protagonist alone, in this case accompanied behind by the evolutions on an elastic band of an even delicate aerial artist played in counterpoint.
Primacy of merits must be assigned first and foremost to what is heard. Therefore, to the whole host of interpreters. Starting with the conductor Francesco Lanzillotta, Roman at his debut on the Costanzi podium, confirmed as an attentive and knowledgeable connoisseur of a well-tested score also outdoors at the Macerata Opera Festival (year 2018) with the then newcomer Nemorino by John Osborn himself (present here) in the singular seaside version reinvented by director Michieletto. Rhythmic snap, full awareness of the different metric sections and exact weight in calibrating the sounds are actually evident from the very first pages of the opening Symphony. But what is most surprising in the conducting, in addition to the mastery of Donizetti’s bel canto style not devoid of Rossini heritage and the intelligence with which the architectural panels are organized in which the dramaturgical-musical structure of the melodrama giocoso is condensed, is the high potential theatrical temperature entrusted to the orchestra during the course of the work, declining its function between mere support or in marked concertant synergy according to the need, case by case, identified in the score. The initial Arcadian foreshortening with the high woodwinds in dialogue soon leaves the field for a targeted turning of the individual characters, for example already anticipating in Nemorino’s cavatina the tender patina alarming which will then be of her famous illusion in the form of a romance, while for Adina Lanzillotta it not only supports her usually cold and flirtatious vocality but contributes to punctually enhancing the beautiful authenticity of her song. So looking for, for Belcore, simplified accents in line with the military mask and with the rejection of the hyperbolic parody with which she comes to present herself. For the Dulcamara engine, she instead activates tensions, dynamics and colors in the wake of an astute Figaro, decidedly sheltered from the canonical caricature of the funny trickster. Also admirable is the power in the ensemble, of the Finali, the tightening of the screws and the particular prominence of the third protagonist entrusted to the orchestra which enters on an equal footing alongside Nemorino and Dulcamara in the duet in which the charlatan doctor passes him off as an elixir quality burgundy or, again, as a rebound in the delightful two-part barcarolle of Adina and Dulcamara in the first scene of the second act.
The rest of the success naturally belongs to the top-ranking voices called to the appeal with a precious summit, in terms of timbre and style, in the high symbiosis between the two protagonists. By now a refined interpreter of reference for a role as a true poet of bel canto, the tenor John Osborn in fact it returns a Nemorino who with sincere impetus chisels hopes and sighs of love in union with an ingenuity that at the same time moves and gently makes you smile, substantiating a song that is so simple and graceful but always authentic and noble in the work on the legate, carefully in the acute punctuations, conceived in the dosage of colors and fork dynamics with which he fleshes out and gives value to the key lemmas. His “Furtiva lagrima”, thanks to the soft and magnificent countermelody of the first bassoon Eliseo Smordoni, hovers in flight like a dream, far beyond the illusion revealed by the false tonality in landing at that sparkle that he thinks he has seen in the eyes of his beloved Adina. He expands its meaning and sound, vibrates in its heartbeats, dampens its accents in delicate half-voices, searches for breaths and supports, climbs safely in a flight to soar in natural sol and, naturally, growing in the heart of the word “amor”. The open-stage applause was long for him with repeated, but in vain requests for an encore in the performance in question.
Like Maestro Lanzillotta, new to the Rome Opera stage was the presence of Aleksandra Kurzakamong the best stars of the range sopranile started from the bel canto and here returned to the terrain of agility after going as far as Nedda, Santuzza, Butterfly and Tosca. Double-edged signs of his courageous vocal itinerary, in truth, are perceived in the greater maturity with which he distills and well supports every single note, in the ductile beauty of the projection and of the phrasing along the entire extension but also in the fortunately very rare points ( the loose trill in pairs of linked quavers in the duet with Belcore, against the splendid high-pitched “A” in retort, or the pyrotechnics of his last cabaletta), in which he accuses but masterfully dominates and resolves any shadow of tiredness. Having said that, her Adina shines for the strength of her character and especially for a singing personality of varied and uncommon temper, combined with the platinum always guaranteed to the pickets and other high notes.
The baritone’s Dulcamara also proves to be no less handsome right from its debut Simon Del Savio, singer-actor to be praised for the volume and scansion of the text, ready to turn the loaded funny into a much more articulated and complex character. He is astute, stentorian, dynamic and sonorous, as indeed suggested in the score by his commitment played in the medium-high zone rather than in the less free depths of the bass. Instead, the Belcore of the baritone appears darker and more severe than usual Alessio Arduini, probably in better coherence with the “bass” role foreseen by Donizetti but also in compromise with the thrust towards the baritone extension. He particularly appreciates the atypical elegance of bearing in the cavatina “Come Paride vezzoso” and, subsequently, the artfully sculpted comparison in the duet with Nemorino in the second act. Finally, the Giannetta of the Palermo soprano is not anonymous in terms of voice and physicality Julia Mazzola, villanella with a scenic and singing attitude soaring at the helm of the Introduction and never in shadow in the ensembles in the light, on the other hand, of the altitude and quality of the high notes assigned to her by the composer from Bergamo. Finally, the lively and plastic Donizetti style of the Choir of the Capitoline Foundation is exact, prepared with great care by the new and excellent maestro Cyrus Visco.
Rome Opera House – Season 2022/23
THE ELIXIR OF LOVE
Playful melodrama in two acts by Happy Romans
from Eugène Scribe’s Le philtre
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Adina Aleksandra Kurzak
Nemorino John Osborn
Bittersweet Simon Del Savio
Belcore Alessio Arduini
Giannetta Julia Mazzola
Actor Stephen Guizzi
Orchestra and Chorus of the Rome Opera House
Director Francesco Lanzillotta
Choir master Cyrus Visco
Direction Roger Hood
Scenes Nicholas Rubertelli
Costumes Charles Poggioli
Lights Vinicio Cheli
Agnes Ascioti, Olympia Ferrara, Marcella Grande,
Barbara Fiorenza, Viviana Filippello, Daniela Visani,
Enzo Mirone, Gianluigi Capone, Claudius Ciannarella, George Coppone
Preparation of the Rome Opera House
Rome, 13 January 2022