L'Elisir d'amore: When Bad Productions Happen to Good Singers
|Camarena and Schultz, photo @ Marty Sohl|
On paper, the Metropolitan Opera's revival of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore should have been a wonderful night at the opera. The cast should have been perfect for their parts, and L'elisir d'amore is one of opera's sunniest, most surefire comedies. You don't really need to work for this opera to work. It's a sweet romantic comedy and the dim country bumpkin Nemorino is one of opera's most lovable characters.
|Belcore is actually terrifying, photo @ Marty Sohl|
Sher also changes the character of Nemorino. Felice Romani's libretto takes pains to emphasize how uneducated and naive Nemorino is. When he enlists in the army he has to sign with a mark as he's illiterate. Sher makes Nemorino a sort of Werther Jr. He's first seen onstage scribbling in his poetry book. In this production, he's so well-read and intelligent that it defies belief that he'd be such an easy mark for Dr. Dulcamara's "love potion." Traditionally tenors have added their own schtick to drunken Nemorino. Rolando Villazon jugged, Roberto Alagna did handstands, Juan Diego Florez moonwalked. Sher just has Nemorino lurching about onstage, so drunk that he swings a bayonet at the crowd. Nemorino loses his charm like this, and becomes a stereotypical hotheaded tenor.
|Camarena, photo @ Marty Sohl|
Golda Schultz (Adina) has a lovely, silvery soprano. She can trill beautifully. It's a size too small for a barn like the Met -- you can hear her, but the voice doesn't have much impact. She did have nice stage chemistry with Camarena. I wish she had a little more sass -- her Adina was very much a good girl.
|Maestri, photo @ Marty Sohl|
Because of the storybook sets and colorful costumes seem to please audiences, I don't think the Met will be in a hurry to replace this production. They need to though -- this production actively works against the charm of the opera. The elixir is suppose to make people fall in love. The elixir in this production just makes everyone a mean drunk.
l completely agree with this review, and was relieved to read this writer and l agreed completely —except that l found Ambrogio Maestri perfect and wonderful, with no complaints about ANYTHING in his work, just utter joy ..ReplyDelete
But I would fire Bart Sher, and never look at his face again, he is appalling :/ .. he utterly destroyed the character of Belcore, and the soldiers, brutalizing Nemorino, and the girls, etc. And why the guns, you non-person?
Get rid of this uneducated-in-opera director, send him back to Broadway, and perhaps import the perfect Vienna production ..