ALBUM TITLE: Donizetti
WORKS: L’elisir d’amore
PERFORMER: Valeria Esposito, Aquiles Machado, Enrico Marrucci, Erwin Schrott, Roberta Canzian; Marchigiani Choir ‘V Bellini’, Marchigiani PO/Niels Muus; dir. Saverio Marconi (Macerata Opera Festival, 2002)
CATALOGUE NO: DV-OPELAMOR
The issue of so unremarkable an Elisir is a puzzle probably best explained by the companies’ need to stock the still-nascent DVD opera catalogue as speedily as possible. It was filmed in 2002 at the Macerata Festival in central Italy – indeed, the famous Arena Sferisterio provides the visual interest, since the production offers trollied props but no sets. In this opera, gentle comedy and tender-hearted emotions matter considerably more than scenic wizardry; still, the staging, which milks jokes from its placing of the action amid and around the orchestra, is only a notch or two above village-hall, and by the end its interest level is low.
Its main assets are the South American male leads: the Venezuelan Aquiles Machado, a likeably roly-poly Nemorino, and the Uruguayan Erwin Schrott, an implausibly youthful, handsome Dulcamara. While neither is a fully matured talent, both have qualities that could place them in the operatic front rank – Machado, a pupil of Alfredo Kraus, has yet to acquire his master’s technical finesse, but the dusky Latin timbre is pleasing.
By contrast, the Italian Adina and Belcore are workaday: Valeria Esposito, the 1987 Cardiff competition winner and a vocally efficient but lightweight leading lady lacking in warmth and charm, Enrico Marrucci a bit of a cipher. The local chorus and orchestra do their best, and the conductor keeps things moving. By no means the worst-ever Elisir, it’s hard to recommend as a DVD investment for repeated watching – especially when Decca’s 1996 Lyon Elisir with Alagna and Gheorghiu, a beautifully polished gem, is also available. TDK’s booklet offers banalities about Donizetti but no cast biographies. Max Loppert