BEL canto genius Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The elixir of love) is presented by Cape Town Opera, a touring production made possible by the unfailing generosity of the Judith Neilson Head Trust. After a successful tour to Ermelo and Sasolburg last month, Cape Town Opera will present the delightful production in the Mother City at Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay from 13-16 October 2022.
True to the tradition of romantic comedy, L’elisir d’amore ticks all the requisite boxes of popular entertainment; perhaps as a corrective antidote to the two serious operas composed by Donizetti immediately before its première in May 1832, it lives and breathes tongue-in-cheek joie de vivre.
The production will be directed by the company’s imaginative artistic director, Magdalene Minnaar, with a piano reduction of the orchestral score entrusted to pianist José Dias. Costume design is by Rabia Davids and Maritha Visagie, who also designs the set,while Fiona du Plooy is responsible for movement direction.
The cast features Puerto Rican tenor Juan Hernández as Nemorino, Brittany Smith as Adina, Conroy Scott as Doctor Dulcamara, Van Wyk Venter as Belcore and Linda Nteleza as Giannetta.
Magdalene Minnaar explains that, after Cape Town Opera’s joyful production of Le nozze di Figaro, the team decided to forge on with another comic opera as an antidote to the misery of Covid-19: “We want to offer our audiences colour, jokes and glorious melodies.” She adds that among these melodies are arias so popular that they will be familiar even to those who do not regularly follow opera.
As for context, Minnaar states, “In our version of Elisir, we have created an Escher-esque dream world in which Adina is tested by the mad scientist and ‘encyclopedic doctor’ Dulcamara. He is an alchemist with a Frankensteinian flair for ingenious chemistry, which he uses to bend the rules of chance, thereby sculpting an alternate reality as a human experiment. Like Spalanzani in Les contes d’Hoffmann with his mechanical doll or a more modern-day Circe, he sends Adina into this alternate realm where two contrasting love prospects test her: the sweet and slightly average Nemorino and pompous, presumptuous Belcore.”
There is never much room for doubt that a happy ending is inevitable in this plot which is as flimsy as tissue paper but utterly charming. Add Donizetti’s beguiling score and lyricism to the high-spirited comedy, and you have all the pleasure that an evening of opera at its sunniest can produce.
Tickets through Computicket.