CAST: Adina: Miah Persson, Nemorino: Rolando Villazon, Belcore: Roman Trekel, Dulcamara: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Giannetta: Regula Mühlemann
Balthasar Neumann Chor und Ensemble
Pablo Heras Casado, conductor
Stage director: Rolando Villazon
Recorded in Baden-Baden, Festspielhaus, 2012
Deutsche Grammophon, 2014
This production of Gaetano Donizetti‘s L’elisir d’amore was staged at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden. It was directed by Rolando Villazon and conducted by Pablo Heras Casado. As for the direction, this is one of many Elisir sui generis, set this time on a Wild West movie set with the transformation of Adina in the star of the movie, of Nemorino in a Mexican extra complete with poncho, of Dulcamara in an Indian sorcerer and of Belcore in a Union soldier. To be honest, after the first glance the idea seems less preposterous than it might seem and, thanks to some funny gags, the show becomes pleasant.
The main characters are played by prominent singers, but not always the name is a guarantee of flawless execution. In this regard, even if I could appreciate Rolando Villazon as Nemorino in the famous Elisir recorded in 2007 with Anna Netrebko, in this latest production his way of singing has become unpleasant, with the result that many notes seem sung at random or produce questionable effects. The tenor saves himself thanks to his stage presence, which is funny as usual, but of course this is not enough. Miah Persson, however, is a witty and flirtatious Adina, precise in phrasing and coloratura. She is also an excellent actress and moves on stage with ease.
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo is a Dulcamara with a beautiful dark timbre and great elegance, but he does not reconcile too well these features with the pedlar with fraudulent ambitions who he sings. Anyway, he displays a histrionic talent in representing the decrepit and toothless “senator Tredenti” in the Barcarola (beginning of Act II).
Roman Trekel as Belcore manages to be convincing, though more as an actor than as a singer, because sometimes he tends to chant and is not always flawless.
Pablo Heras Casado’s conduction, finally, is lively and captures perfectly the spirit of the opera.