L’Elisir d’Amore by Gaetano Donizetti, libretto Felice Romani
Langdon Down Centre
Normansfield Theatre - 27 September 2018
Something for the Weekend, Sir?
by Gaetano Donizetti, libretto Felice Romani
Villa InCanto at Normansfield Theatre until 22nd September, then on tour until 12th November
Review by Ian Nethersell
Sometimes when you strip away everything you are left with nothing, but sometimes you find more. The latter definitely being the case for me at this fully staged presentation of Donizetti’s comic opera in the wonderfully atmospheric Normansfield Theatre. Just as Dr John Langdon Down was pioneering at Normansfield in identifying Down’s Syndrome and working with sufferers believing inclusion and artistic presentation were key, so too are Villa InCanto in the belief of bringing opera off the stage and amongst the people and in the unique way in which they present it.
The space had been set up with seating creating a thrust space at floor level with access to the stage by the original ornate Victorian steps. It was into this space Maestro Riccardo Serenelli entered. His passion, enjoyment and excitement for this genre was clear and as he sat at the piano the lights went down on the floor space. Serenelli kept the music bright and directed stellar performances from all the cast.
Renato Cordeiro’s Nemorino kept a childlike innocence throughout but drew out and presented truthful emotions in his delivery, acting and his smooth, unforced voice which was a joy to hear. Maria Casado Mas presented a strong but playful Adina, never out of control but not controlling. Her full bodied voice was full even as she hit the top notes. Jorge Tello Rodriguez brought more comedy to the role of Sergeant Belcore than I have seen before in any comic opera. His enjoyment in the playing was infectious and his powerful voice was never uncontrolled. Derek Henderson’s voice is a deep rich bass and his portrayal of a slightly inept conman Dr Dulcamara, the purveyor of the ‘Elixir’, who can’t believe he got away with it, was fully rounded.
Paring the piece down allowed me to interact with the piece more fully than I have before and I also found myself laughing during a comic opera, a first for me. The fully drawn characterisations without caricature, immaculate singing and acting would not be out of place on any dramatic stage.
Less is not always more but in this case it most definitely was; the paring down, without compromise to quality and congruence drew me into the piece and I left feeling as though I had been part of it, experienced it, not just watched it.
Read Ian Nethersell’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/elisir
Photography courtesy of Villa InCanto
L’Elisir d’Amore by Gaetano Donizetti, libret