Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore; plus documentary

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Donizetti
WORKS: L’elisir d’amore; plus documentary
PERFORMER: Alagna, Gheorgiu/Evelino Pido; dir. Frank Dunlop (Opera National de Lyon, 1996)
CATALOGUE NO: 074 103-9
Deed’s Lyon Elisiris a gem: I delighted in the video, five years ago, and even more in the new DVD. In Brian Large’s masterly filming, the 1996 Frank Dunlop staging offers sophistication — a Thirties updating full of witty visual details – tempered by a generous infusion of Donizettian warmth.

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The whole show, expertly conducted by Pido, seems to take its tone from Alagna’s lovable Nemorino. With a hint of Harpo Marx, never overstated, he shows us a country boy, naive, wide-eyed and tender-hearted. His singing, though at times lacking parallel lightness, is rich in romance, colour and rhythmic snap. The sum is a remarkable achievement.

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Moulding exquisite phrases, Gheorghiu is perhaps less ‘specific’ as Adina but no less a pleasure to watch and hear. Alaimo’s Dulcamara, brilliant in tone and delivery, entirely avoids routine; only Scaltriti’s Belcore, tall, handsome but a shade anonymous and thickly voiced, notches a slightly lower level. The quality of unity, the feeling of joyousness, in this Elisiris rare.