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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Elixir of Love, ENO

I absolutely loved this production of Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’. Never have I walked away from an opera production with such a spring in my step and smile on my face, it was simply delightful. Legendary director Jonathan Miller rarely disappoints and here he exceeds all expectations, reviving his popular production of this comic classic.

Set in the 1950’s, inspired by the era of Marilyn Monroe, it feels as if Donizetti precisely intended this setting and time, the modernity chimes with the fun and flirty storyline and score. Designer Isabella Bywater presents us with her kitsch pastel scenery, Adina’s Diner stands illuminated in the centre of the stage, surrounded by sand and grit, not dissimilar to Grease the Musical's set.

It is a silly love story, but at least one that can be easily followed, and is made believable by the witty acting and obvious enthusiasm of the cast. Adina, cute and coquettish, flits about her diner admired by all the boys. A poor local man, Nemorino and a conceited visiting soldier, Belcore both lust after her, desperate for her hand in marriage, but Adina is carefree and independent and refuses them both. Meanwhile an eccentric doctor, Dulcamara arrives to sell his fraud portions to the townfolk. The confidence of the soldier eventually sways Adina and they arrange to be married that night. Nemorino is defeated and distraught and begs Dr Dulcamara for a love poison to win over Adina’s heart. Coincidentally, though the portion is only cheap booze, Nemorino inherits a fortune and becomes immediately popular. Adina realises her mistake - she does love Nemorino after all and they are united.

Sarah Tynan has the charm and attitude to make the perfect pin-up girl Adina, and isn’t lacking in the looks department either. With a peroxide blonde hairdo and a cheeky pink uniform she shakes her hips and isn’t afraid to flirt naughtily on stage. Her soprano voice is bright and clear, and she controls it well during the fiddly arias, running up and down the virtuosic passages with elasticity. She is surrounded on stage by a cast of talented men, Ben Johnson is brilliant as the lovesick Nemorino; with a gorgeous bel canto tenor voice he suits Donizetti’s music well. Andrew Shore is hilarious as the fraudulent doctor, witty and full of life, his acting and singing are commendable.

The orchestra provide a jolly accompaniment, conducted by a very young but dynamic Rory Macdonald. My only criticism would be the sound levels; at times the ensemble work is a little weak and quiet, getting lost amongst the rich orchestral score.
This is a truly fabulous production that is not to be missed. A charming romantic comedy that will woo every audience member.

Continues until 8 October 2011, book here.

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