Writer: Annabel Arden
Cast: Benedetta Torre, Sehoon Moon, Matthew Durkan, Misha Kiria, Carrie-Ann Williams & Maxime Nourissat
Review Date: November 21 2019
Performances: November 21 2019, 2pm matinee
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 140 Minutes incl. interval
Age Rating: 8+
The first of three days of opera performances presented at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre by the prestigious Glyndebourne Tour company, L’elisir D’amore delivers a fair few laughs and slices of heart-warming romance alongside some fantastic singing that results in a very strong retelling of the classic Gaetano Donizetti story.
L’elisir D’amore was performed earlier this afternoon, which allowed a mixed audience of an older generation and also several school classes. Before the show began proper, we had some words from Misha Kiria, who discussed the concept of opera as well as providing a brief background of the subsequent show, which was a good way to let attendees know what was happening right from the off; that said, the English subtitles for the Italian verbiage were shown on a board above the stage, which ensured that nobody lost track as to what was taking place.
Onto the show itself, we quickly meet Adina (Benedetta Torre), a privileged young woman, and local country boy Nemorino (Sehoon Moon), who has affections towards her. Adina is courteous, yet is clearly not majorly interested, and she seems to ignore his attempts at speaking a romance. Just as it looks like he is about to make a breakthrough, though, his quest is damaged severely by the arrival of army officials, led by Sergeant Belcore (Matthew Durkan). He is also wealthy, with his funds shaping his arrogance, and he has immense confidence which quickly captures the attention of Adina.
This upsets Nemorino, who is convinced that he can win Adina’s heart. So much so that when he bumps into Dr. Dulcamara (Misha Kiria in his primary role) and his magician-like assistant (played by Maxime Nourissat), he gullibly falls for Dulcamara’s suggestion that he has a special potion which allows its sampler to easily attract the opposite sex within 24 hours. In reality, it’s an alcoholic drink called Bordeaux, but it does Nemorino enough of a boost to try and speak to Adina. In the midst of this, though, Belcore wishes for Adina to marry him more than once; she initially gives six days’ notice, but when Belcore is needed on the battlefield, the wedding is brought forward to later that day.
At this point, Nemorino is viewed not as a lovable rogue but as an interfering nuisance by the entire village which severely impacts his spirits. However, all is not lost: until the wedding happens, there is always a chance that things could turn in Nemorino’s favour, but how could that possibly happen? Do Dulcamara and his assistant have something to answer for? And what role will Giannetta (Carrie-Ann Williams), Adina’s friend, play in all of this?
The story crafted by Donizetti was written up in just six weeks, which is rushed by the standards of opera, but you would never know that from watching this show because the tale is easy to follow and is relatable despite its European location. Nemorino is more of a sympathetic yet oblivious hero who battles for a positive cause, and though Adina occasionally demonstrates the traits of a bully, one gets the feeling that her mind has been warped by Belcore, though removing her from the Sergeant’s control is easier said than done. Meanwhile, there are plenty of extra cast members as the villagers, with their dance moves and large-scale singing providing some scenes with extra gravitas. Meanwhile, Dulcamara and his assistant are responsible for the biggest laughs, and at times their attempts at persuading the locals leads to some moments that are close to being quite risqué!
The performers themselves do a fine job: all of the key cast members are believable in their roles, but there is no doubt that Sehoon Moon stands out the most in terms of making his character likeable (by design, of course), and as mentioned, the characters played by Misha Kiria and Maxime Nourissat will stand out in the audience’s mind when it’s all said and done. The setting is very well done, and just like the costumes, it is authentic and true to the mid-19th century. And of course, there is the singing; Sehoon Moon is superb in demonstrating his vocal talents, though I would also note that Benedetta Torre shines as well, especially in the final third of the production. The orchestra are also topnotch, adding so much to the scenes in terms of drama and emotion.
Overall, L’elisir D’amore is a great introduction to Glyndebourne Tour, and is also an ideal introduction to the world of opera as a whole. I am looking forward to seeing what Rinaldo and Rigoletto have to offer over the coming days, but in the meantime, I would definitely recommend Glyndebourne Tour’s version of L’elisir D’amore if and when it comes to your town.
Target Audience: Adults Aged 50+
Content: 1/5 – Very Infrequent Mild Innuendo
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent
Glyndebourne Tour are bringing Rinaldo and Rigoletto to the Empire Theatre on Friday November 22 and Saturday November 23. To buy tickets, click here or call 0844 871 3017.