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"L’Elisir d’Amore", with Matthew Polenzani and Pretty Yende, at the Metropolitan Opera

- Classical and Cultural Connections
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L’Elisir d’Amore
At the
Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera House

General Manager: Peter Gelb
Music Director Designate: Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Pretty Yende as Adina
Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino
Davide Luciano as Sgt. Belcore
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Dr. Dulcamara
Dísella Lárusdóttir as Giannetta

Conductor: Domingo Hindoyan

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto: Felice Romani
Production: Bartlett Sher
Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer: Jennifer Tipton
Revival Stage Director: Gina Lapinski

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 14, 2018

(Read the Synopsis of L’Elisir d’Amore).
(Watch a Video of Matthew Polenzani’s “Una Furtiva Lagrima” ).
(Read a Review of Matthew Polenzani’s Song Recital at Tully Hall).

Bartlett Sher’s 2012 production was so exquisite on a Met Opera outdoor film event in 2014, that I eagerly awaited the chance to experience it again, live this time. Once again, Matthew Polenzani was Nemorino, whose “Una Furtiva Lagrima” had practically brought the thousands of outdoor opera fans to their feet in 2014. Tonight, the live audience stopped the show, again, in endless accolades. Mr. Polenzani continues to be an artist to follow, with his nuanced facial gestures and sincere, expressive persona. As Nemorino, he pursues his beloved farm proprietor, Adina, trying to win her love, in spite of his poverty and lack of social standing. Mr. Polenzani leaps about, like the ballet artists, who dance on this Met Opera stage every spring. Yet, when he wins over his object of desire, Adina, his romantic embrace and impulsive kisses generate sparks of fire, beyond the stage. His larger than life tenor is evocative of a young Pavarotti, but he’s still boyish in demeanor, with youthful fervor and appeal. His soft vocals, in this show-stopping aria, amidst fields of golden wheat in the moonlight, following the poignant harp-bassoon introduction, are even more astounding now, in surreal quietude and trembling, bravura magnitude.

Pretty Yende was Adina, with her black top hat, red skirt, wide, brown leather belt, and billowy white blouse (thanks to Catherine Zuber, costume designer). The South-African born soprano sang with fullness, eager lust, and warm, vibrant tonality. Adina is torn between Nemorino and Sergeant Belcore, who’s imminently back to War. Davide Luciano, the Italian-born baritone, was Belcore, highly nuanced in theatrics, impressively stately and formidable. Belcore is a comic and a womanizer, also obsessed with Adina. His hand, mouth, and facial gestures exude colorful vaudevillian affect, but his charisma toward Ms. Yende does not surpass that of Mr. Polenzani. Mr. Luciano’s baritone, however, gorgeously resounds with strength and eloquence. Toward the end of the opera, Belcore is a good sport, and switches gears to gain Adina’s friend, the flirtatious and cunning Giannetta (Disella Lárusdóttir).

The man with the elixir of love, Doctor Dulcamara, who arrives onstage in a giant carriage, fit for Cinderella, was performed by Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, the Italian-born bass, with largesse of spirit and tone. His patter, sung with and over the chorus, was clear and perfectly memorized, so rapid and pulsating. He promises Nemorino an elixir to make Adina fall in love with him, along with all the women in town, and that elixir, an inexpensive Bordeaux, makes Nemorino giddy, wild, and wanton. But, back to Mr. D’Arcangelo, he’s filled with persona and comic theatrics. The Met audience laughed wholeheartedly throughout the evening. Bartlett Sher’s production includes Michael Yeargan’s piazza, carriage, and wheat fields, as well as Catherine Zuber’s retro and rustic costumes. Jennifer Tipton’s lighting, as always, shifts with the scene, so that Nemorino’s “Una Furtiva Lagrima” is set amidst shimmering, evening glow. The Chorus sang with impressive luminosity, while the Venezuela-born maestro, Domingo Hindoyan, conducted both Chorus and soloists to keep a brisk, emotional energy emanating across the two Acts. Kudos to all.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at