Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore (DVD)
Caterina Sala, Javier Camarena, Florian Sempey, Roberto Frontali; Donizetti Opera; Gli Originali/Riccardo Frizza (Dynamic/DVD)
L’elisir d’amore (DVD)
Caterina Sala, Javier Camarena, Florian Sempey, Roberto Frontali; Donizetti Opera; Gli Originali/Riccardo Frizza; dir. Frederic Wake-Walker (Bergamo, 2021)
Dynamic DVD: 37944; Blu-ray: 57944 142 mins
The Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo devotes itself to reviving the composer’s lesser-known works and has embarked on a large-scale project to disseminate its performances on DVD. Its latest offering is somewhat surprising, for L’elisir d’amore has certainly suffered no neglect, but even here we are presented with something novel: the complete score, eschewing the customary cuts, a production rooted in geographical specificity and a performance on authentic instruments, giving the orchestration a distinctly mellow tone.
If this DVD will interest the Donizetti specialist, it also has much to offer to the opera neophyte. Frederic Wake-Walker’s production is low on gimmicks and high on charm. Balloons, puppets and bright, carnivalesque costumes hinting at the local commedia dell-artetradition remind us of Italian opera’s historic roots in popular culture, neatly complemented by an unexpected element of audience participation. The acting is genial and the vocal casting luxurious, featuring singers at the forefront of this repertoire today. Star tenor Javier Camarena gives a winning, thoughtfully characterised performance as Nemorino, the voice light, lyrical and spontaneous. Florian Sempey is by turns tender and stately as Belcore, Roberto Frontali a rather dignified Dulcamara. Newcomer Caterina Sala performs the role of Adina with easy assurance, the voice sparklingly buoyant yet attractively rich in tone. A masked chorus transports us back to a historical moment we would all rather forget, but you cease noticing soon enough. Upbeat, supple conducting from Riccardo Frizza rounds off one of the most pleasing releases to date from this dynamic and imaginative company.