Glyndebourne Tour 2019 L'elisir d'amore - Milton Keynes Theatre (
Rom-coms don’t come any more rom or com than Donizetti’s L’elisir
d’amore and Annabel Arden’s Glyndebourne production is the frothiest, lightest,
gladdening confection of superb singing, fine acting, inspired setting and
masterly musicianship imaginable.

Lez Brotherton’s evocative village square set, dominated by
a grand yet slightly decaying house, places the action in the rural south of
Italy in the early 1920s.

Poor honest bloke Nemorino is in love with posh bird Adina,
all sass, class and sharp as a tack. She knows of his feelings but gives him
the ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ routine, and his cause seems lost when the
handsome but vain Sergeant Belcore arrives in the village with his men and
takes a shine to Adina.  When Nemorino hears Adina reading to her workers the
story of Tristan and Isolde
, he is convinced that a magic potion will help him to gain her
love. The mug.

Enter itinerant quack Dulcamara, who is
only too keen to relieve Nemorino of his cash in exchange for his miraculous
elixir, which is actually cheap wine. Told to wait until the next day for the
effects to kick in (so Mr Snake Oil can scarper), Nemorino is nonplussed when
he discovers that Adina and Belcore are to marry that evening.

Cue screwball fun and dramatic reverses all

Sehoon Moon’s Nemorino is a wonder. His light,
pure, beautifully controlled tenor is the ideal vehicle for Donizetti’s
yearning arias. He also displays comic timing straight out of the Norman Wisdom
Hapless Innocent handbook. It’s an endearing and tender performance. Benedetta
Torre is also in fine voice as Adina. A warm soprano, she comes into her own in
Act 2 when her indifference to Nemorino gives way to first affection then love.

Matthew Durkan’s swaggering
Belcore, provides a fine comic counterpoint to Nemorino. Big guy versus small
and braggartry versus diffidence. Yet again it’s a warm performance in which Belcore
never comes off as evil or a scheming villain.

Misha Kiria is a splendidly
dodgy Dulcamara, imperiously strutting the stage but aware of his fakery in his
asides to the audience. He is partnered by the mime Maxime Nourissat as his
rascally assistant, who provides the production with some proper Grade A smut
that surprises and amuses in equal measure.

The Glyndebourne Chorus look
like they’re have a whale of a time as the scandal hungry villagers, and down
in the pit Ben Glassberg maintains the essential link between the music and the
action with the aplomb you’d expect.

If you’ve never been a fan of
opera, this is one to change your mind.

L’elisir d’amore is at Milton
Keynes Theatre on Thursday Nov 14.