If you are a fan of bel canto comedies you will probably enjoy the 2009 Glyndeboure production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore quite a lot.
Director Annabel Arden sets this bucolic comedy in the Italian countryside of the 1950s (though some of the iconography is more appropriate to the Mussolini period). It has some of the look, but little of the edge of Italian neo-realist cinema. It does though take the work fairly seriously with a Dulcamara who is isn’t the obvious quack we usually see but just hints at having real powers. Dulcemara also acquires a rather bizarre mute assistant. Beyond that it’s all carefully staged with the chorus action well directed and performed.
Adina is played by Ekaterina Siurina who is very easy on the eye, can act and sings expressively and sweetly. Peter Auty is a good foil as Nemorino. He’s a bit bumbling which works with the production and he nails the big arias. Adini credimi is lovely. The chemistry between him and Siurina is good especially when she’s beating him up. Alfredo Daza has plenty of swagger as Belcore but doesn’t overdo it. Luciano Di Pasquale is a rather restrained Dulcamara but that seems to be a deliberate part of the production concept. James Bellorini is a rather weird and wonderful assistant. The musical direction and execution by the LPO under Maurizio Benini is excellent. All in all, this has pretty much everything except super-star glamour.
The video direction is by Robin Lough. He doesn’t have closeupitis but he does use some odd camera angles. This can be a bit disturbing especially as the set appears to be built on a square rotated through 45 degrees relative to he audience. Still, it’s a decent effort. Technically the disc is excellent. It was recorded in HD and true surround sound and the picture is very good for DVD. The DTS sound is also quite vivid and realistic. Blu-ray is also available. Subtitle options are English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. Unusually for Opus Arte it’s short on bonuses and documentation; just a synopsis and cast gallery on the disc and a rather academic essay about the work but not the production in the booklet. This could definitely have used a director interview.