Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: L’elisir d’amore
PERFORMER: Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Scaltriti, Simone Alaimo, Elena Dan; Lyon National Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Evelino Pidò
CATALOGUE NO: 455 691-2

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From the opening bars of its high-spirited prelude to the end of its equally happy finale, there is not a dull moment in this, the most enchanting of Donizetti’s comedies. It is a work that has been fortunate in its recordings over the years, and this new release with its predominantly youthful cast is a delight. L’elisir is really a tenor’s opera, and its great moment of pure sentiment comes with Nemorino’s Act II aria, ‘Una furtiva lagrima’, in which he expresses his love and his newly found conviction that he is loved in return. Roberto Alagna, in his second recording of the role, is an irresistible lovesick young swain, giving the aria more pace and urgency than one usually hears, and decorating its second stanza most originally. Angela Gheorghiu’s Adina is strongly characterised, beautifully sung and especially moving in the duet ‘Prendi, per me sei libero’, when she attempts to give Nemorino his freedom. Roberto Scaltriti is a thoroughly engaging Sergeant Belcore, from his charming opening cavatina to his brisk exit after being defeated in love, and Simone Alaimo makes the most of his many opportunities as the itinerant quack Dr Dulcamara. Evelino Pidò extracts playing that is both exuberant and graceful from the orchestra of the Lyon National Opera. Charles Osborne

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Reviewed January 1998