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Monday, August 15, 2022

Three outstanding singers and an original staging in the return of a classic by Donizetti to the Teatro Colón

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Despite the fact that only seven years had passed since the last production of this title in the theater (it was Sergio Renán’s farewell, who died the following month), the Teatro Colón once again offered L’elisir d’amorethe Gaetano Donizetti classic.

The choice, rather than being arbitrary, seems to have been made to make possible what many decades ago was the rule and today (economy of the country and the world through) is an exception: the confluence in the scenario of three singers out of series guided by a specialist on the podium.

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti.  Photo: Teatro Colón press, courtesy Máximo Parpagnoli

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti. Photo: Teatro Colón press, courtesy Máximo Parpagnoli

The comedy with a libretto by Felice Romani was thus the excuse for putting together a stellar cast, led by the North American Nadine Sierra (Adina), the Mexican Javier Camarena (Nemorino) and Italian Ambrogio Maestri (Dulcamara), and at the orders of Evelino Pido.

A classic

Premiered in 1832 in Milan, and with antecedents that go back to a play by Silvio Malaperta and its adaptation for an opera with a libretto by Scribe and music by Auber, L’elisir d’amore It is a simple and universal story, that of a young man who, in love with an unattainable girl, resorts to a mysterious “broad-spectrum” elixir that gives him courage.

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti.  Photo: Teatro Colón press courtesy Arnaldo Colombaroli

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti. Photo: Teatro Colón press courtesy Arnaldo Colombaroli

Meanwhile, and the news spread that he has received an inheritance, he begins to be harassed by women, which arouses the jealousy of those who until then had disdained him.

The Asturian stage director Emilio Sagi chose to transfer the action to the 1950sand more specifically to a schoolyard (successful execution by Enrique Bordolini) in which there is no shortage of basketball hoops, cheerleaders, people who come and go by bicycle and, of course, the fashion of the time, in a spectacular work of Renata Schussheim.

More than dealing with a mere aesthetic question (as was said, the proposition is a priori possible to imagine in many contexts), the problem arises from the fact that most of the entanglements of elysir is only explained if certain differences in socio-cultural status between the characters are preserved: only the fact that Adina is the rich and cultured landowner can explain that she gives orders to the choir (originally the peasants who work on her farm), that Nemorino not consider himself worthy of her love and that everyone surrounds her to ask her to tell them what she is reading.

It is also not easy to imagine that a group of students, as Sagi puts it, would be easily fooled by a fake elixir vendor or bow down to the arrival of a regiment. Apart from this central question, and from curious choices such as developing a long silent scene with basketball plays before the opening, Sagi’s régie is resolved with professionalism and provides moments of humor.

The main performers

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti.  Photo: Teatro Colón press, courtesy Máximo Parpagnoli

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti. Photo: Teatro Colón press, courtesy Máximo Parpagnoli

Although the three main performers had already sung in the room, only one of them (Ambrogio Maestri) had done so in the context of an opera. This factor may account for the fact that both Nadine Sierra (Adina) and Camarena (Nemorino), both highly intelligent and experienced artists, have seemed to start out cautiously, testing the acoustic terrain before going all out.

Already completely affirmed, Sierra was a dream protagonist, theatrically unwrapped and youthful, and on a vocal level an example of line, rubato, declamation, agility and above all things a musicality that has been marked by fire. His beautiful scene of the second act (I turned on, but I was freed) will remain in the history of Colón as one of the most memorable moments so far this century.

Javier Camarena made (well marked by the regista) a delicious creation from the acting point of view as a young man without malice and he was vocally left over and impeccable in each intervention; the most awaited moment of the opera, its romance A furtive teardrew sighs from the stalls to paradise.

In a role that also seems tailor-made for him, the baritone Ambrogio Maestri was a charming Dulcamara who, despite a somewhat timid entrance (Udite, udite, or rustici!), grew to be a prominent element throughout the second act.

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti.  Photo: Teatro Colón press courtesy Arnaldo Colombaroli

Opera The Elixir of Love, by Gaetano Donizetti. Photo: Teatro Colón press courtesy Arnaldo Colombaroli

The cast was completed by Alfredo Daza as Belcore (erratic in his pitch and body language, as if he had not found the gestures for his character) and the always effective Florencia Machado as Giannetta. The Stable Choir, prepared by Miguel Martínez, complied perfectly with the demands of the scene, and musically it adhered like clockwork to the agile tempi of the musical direction.

Evelino Pidò, a specialist in the Italian romantic repertoire, managed, thanks to philological rigor, to present a “novel” version of a work seen almost 20 times at the Colón,

The director from Turin opened the traditional cuts and thus allowed us to appreciate fragments of recitatives, numbers and stanzas that are usually omitted, an alternative da capo of A furtive tear and a full ensemble with choir that gives more meaning to the action of the second act.

His hand was also seen in the impeccable vocal style of the main trio, and at his orders the Stable Orchestra was a clockwork mechanism never exceeded in sonority.

With standing ovations and in an almost full room, the audience of the Gran Abono celebrated, more than a new premiere of the season, the realization of the dream of seeing a stellar cast of figures in the fullness of their means and in the repertoire that identifies them.

We can only hope that future seasons will bring about this type of combination again, which would clearly put Colón back on the front line of the international circuit.

File

L’elisir d’amore, opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Qualification: very good

Music direction: Evelino Pido. Stage direction: Emilio Sagi. Living room: Teatro Colón, Tuesday, August 2. Repeat on August 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10.

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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