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Donizetti’s "L’Elisir d’Amore" Outdoors at the Met Opera's Summer HD Festival
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Donizetti’s "L’Elisir d’Amore" Outdoors at the Met Opera's Summer HD Festival

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Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore
Summer HD Festival
(Summer HD Festival Web Page)
At the
Metropolitan Opera
(Met Opera Website)

Outdoors at the
Metropolitan Opera House

Anna Netrebko as Adina
Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino
Mariusz Kwiecien as Belcore
Ambrogio Maestri as Doctor Dulcamara
Conductor, Maurizio Benini

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto: Felice Romani
Production: Bartlett Sher
Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer: Jennifer Tipton
Live in HD Director: Gary Halvorson
Music Producer: Jay David Saks

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 29, 2014

L’Elisir d’Amore (1832)
Original Recorded Production, October 13, 2012
(Read the Synopsis of L’Elisir d’Amore).

I had never seen, before tonight, the original 1800’s version of L’Elisir d’Amore, set in an Italian farm (I had only seen the now-defunct City Opera’s version set in a 50’s diner). Bartlett Sher’s 2012 production was so exquisite on tonight’s film, at the Met’s Summer HD Festival, I cannot wait to see it again live, but only with Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino, whose “Una Furtiva Lagrima” practically brought the thousands of outdoor fans to their feet. In fact, an endless police motorcade drove by Lincoln Center, just as his aria began, and nobody made a sound or looked backward. All eyes were on the screen, and the packed audience applauded loudly, during the recorded show-stopping applause. Mr. Polenzani is an artist to follow, with his nuanced facial gestures and dramatic persona. As Nemorino, he pursues his beloved farm proprietor, Adina (Anna Netrebko), trying to win her love, in spite of his poverty and lack of social standing. Mr. Polenzani leaped about, like the ballet artists, who dance on the very same Met Opera stage in spring. Yet, when he won over his object of desire, Adina, his romantic embrace and impulsive kisses generated sparks of fire, beyond the screen. His larger than life tenor was evocative of Pavarotti, yet he’s boyish in demeanor, with youthful fervor and appeal. His soft vocals, even in this show-stopping aria, amidst fields of golden wheat in the moonlight, following the poignant harp-bassoon introduction, were astounding in both surreal quietude and trembling, bravura magnitude.

Anna Netrebko, as Adina, with her black top hat, red skirt, wide, brown leather belt, and billowy white blouse (thanks to Catherine Zuber, costume designer), sang with fullness, eager lust, and soaring soprano tonality. Adina is torn between Nemorino and Sergeant Belcore, who’s imminently back to War. Mariusz Kwiecien, baritone, is Belcore, equally nuanced in theatrics, although not at all adorable like Nemorino, but rather more stately and formidable. Yet, he’s a comic wit, a womanizer, and equally obsessed with Adina. His hand, mouth, and facial gestures exude colorful vaudevillian affect, but there’s also chemistry with Ms. Netrebko that fires the stage. Mr. Kwiecien’s baritone resounds with strength and eloquence. Toward the end of the opera, Belcore is a good sport, and switches gears to gain Adina’s friend, Giannetta.

The man with the elixir of love, Doctor Dulcamara, who arrives onstage in a giant carriage, fit for Cinderella, is performed by Ambrogio Maestri, a bass, with largesse of physique 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 him giddy, wild, and wanton. But, back to Mr. Maestri, he’s filled with persona and comic theatrics. The audience laughed wholeheartedly throughout the filmed opera. 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 Maurizio Benini conducted both Chorus and soloists to keep a brisk, emotional energy emanating across the two Acts. Kudos to the Met Opera for providing the Summer HD Festival. The live in HD Series continues throughout the year, indoors, in selected movie theaters on specific calendar dates.

Anna Netrebko in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore"
Courtesy of Met Opera Website

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