Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Roberto Scaltriti, Simone
Alaimo, Elena Dan
Orchestre et Choeur de l'Opera National de Lyon
Conductor: Evelino Pido
Stage Director: Frank Dunlop
Director for Video: Brian Large
Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only) PAL,
126 mins + Film Love Potion 52 mins Decca 074 103-9
favourite romantic comedy, L'elisir d'amore is a brilliantly
told tale of difficulties that men and women have in communicating
with each other, and this superb DVD is as heart-warming a presentation
of Donizetti's happy ending as home viewers could wish for. The
starring couple, darlings of the opera world, had only been married
a few months before it was filmed, and it shows in their rapport
and almost subliminal gestures of affection on stage, and more obviously
in the Love Potion film.
a new venture for Gheorgiu and she instils real joy into her roulades.
Alagna is a skilful actor and points up the fun with subtlety throughout,
adjusting the scale of his gestures and expression perfectly for
the camera. Both sing in these roles, tailor made for them, as well
as any now before the public. Scaltriti swaggers outrageously as
the over-confident suitor Belcore and Alaimo makes a great deal
of the itinerant alternative physician, dispensing cheap wine and
preying on the gullibility of uneducated rural villagers. Evelino
Pido has a sure grasp of the score and Frank Dunlop's stage production,
updated to the 1920s, works well and is expertly captured in Brian
Large's direction for video (Lyon Opera has long maintained a policy
of filming their productions so that they can be enjoyed world-wide).
After the run
at Lyon, the theatre was stripped and draped to create an audio
ambience and the whole opera re-rehearsed intensively with scrupulous
attention to the detail required for the microphone. Traditional
cuts were opened and for the CDs (DECCA 455 691-2DHO2) Alagna even
recorded Donizzeti's later version of Una furtive lagrima
in a lower key as an extra, though in the event that track was not
released. Derek Bailey's supplementary film Love Potion is an entertaining
documentary, informative on many aspects of the processes of creating
this great production, with thoughtful opinions from all concerned.
It is uncommonly illuminating, especially for the insight it brings
into the differences between filming and audio recording.