Opera. Bel canto in Swedish when director Stina Ancker sets Donizetti's beloved opera in a circus environment.
Romantic comedy with Court Singer Elin Rombo
On Sunday the 1st of December, the performance of L'elisir d'amore will be streamed live to Folkets Hus och Parker's cinemas around Sweden.
Watch a film clip from L'elisir d'amore
A travelling quack, Dulcamara, arrives in a little village. His bag is full of miraculous elixirs. Or is it just red wine?
Gawky country boy Nemorino buys a bottle at once and hopes it will enable him to get the self-assured Adina to fall in love with him. Once he has drunk a little "elixir", Nemorino changes. Adina suddenly sees something new in him. Maybe she too will change? With Dulcamara the carnival comes to the village and fills it with magic. Because we find ourselves in a time when a bicycling travelling salesman selling miracle cures could make a difference.
Donizetti s bel canto opera L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) is a musical fireworks display, filled with human warmth, musical sensitivity and lively passion. This charming and eternally young work constantly attracts new interpreters and new audiences. And it is not just from the self-assured Adina that awkward country-boy Nemorino finally draws a tear, but usually also from the audience.
Director Stina Ancker is something of an expert on romantic comedies, and she is returning to us with the same team that was behind West Side Story 2011. We promise a bubbling sense of comedy with a distinct element of the circus.
The opera will be performed in Swedish in a fresh, new translation by Magnus Lindman. In the roles of the principal couple, we see two beautifully melodious young singers on their way out onto the international scene: Elin Rombo and Daniel Johansson. The other principal roles are taken by Fredrik Zetterström/ Markus Schwartz and Åke Zetterström. The conductor is Tobias Ringborg, specialist in the Italian romantic repertoire.
A picture gallery from the show
A picture gallery of the cast in make-up
Costume design sketches by Kajsa Larsson
The Elixir of Love – an eternal elixir of life
L'elisir d'amore is one of the most beloved and most performed comic operas ever. By the time of its first performance on a day in May at Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan, Donizetti had had his great international breakthrough barely two years previously. This took place in the same city as the serious opera Anna Bolena, after having written 35 of his 70 operas... He was now 35 years old and some of his best years were yet ahead of him. The opera director at that same theatre was having trouble with another composer, who could not deliver his opera in time, so he approached Donizetti for something to fill the spring season with, but it had to be in a hurry! Once he had secured Italy's leading librettist, Felice Romani, residing in Milan at the time, Donizetti accepted the contract. Lightning speed composing was never a problem for Donizetti – he composed his remaining 35 operas in only thirteen years, before succumbing to syphilis. It took Rossini only three weeks to compose The Barber of Seville, a fact that Donizetti is said to have commented with "well, Rossini was always a bit lazy". According to some sources, Donizetti completed L'elisir d'amore in two weeks, other sources say five.
He was concerned about the theatre's character casting, however. To librettist Romani, he wrote: "We have a German prima donna, a tenor who stutters, a buffo with a voice like a goat and a worthless French basso, still we must cover ourselves with glory. Courage, dear Romani. Hang on – and onwards." And Romani did. He used an existing libretto by Eugène Scribe, Le philtre, which had been performed in Paris the previous year with music by Auber. He altered the characters' names from French to Italian ones, did some slight reworking and presto, a new opera libretto was a fact. This was not an uncommon approach at the time, and there were seldom any intellectual property right disputes.
The story describes events in a small community, and in particular how they unfold for the two main characters Nemorino and Adina, when two strangers arrive at the village. The simple peasant's son Nemorino is completely besotted with the wealthy young landowner Adina, but to no avail. Everything is turned on end by the quack doctor Dulcamara, with his cure-all "elixir of love" (in reality cheap red wine), and the boastful sergeant Belcore, who courts Adina, which ends in the two youths being united.
Donizetti insisted on three insertions to the original text which alter the story, giving it a more serious tone (he was careful to denote his work a comic opera and not an opera buffa, in other words more of an elegant comedy with depth than a farce). The insertions create a sudden dramatic respite where we not only laugh at the characters, but also feel sympathy for them on a more romantic note. Two of them involve Nemorino, who is not a laughing-stock at all, nor just some comical figure, and the third change involves the self-conscious Adina. The first is an addition to the first act finale - Nemorino's sudden heart-felt outburst "Adina, credimi" with his tender plea to Adina to wait just one day before marrying Belcore. Adina joins his melody, which is deliberate and in a minor key, and we begin to divine - perhaps even before she knows it herself - that her heart in fact belongs to Nemorino. The second change is the real show stopper of the opera and its most famous aria - Nemorino's "Una furtiva lagrima" where he has a glimmer of hope and starts to guess that Adina loves him perhaps after all. The third change is Adina's last aria "Prendi, per me sei libero" where she herself has felt a pang of jealousy and begs Nemorino to stay in the village.
Needless to say, the smooth workings of all these small islands of gravity demand an exquisite comical gaiety and merry vocal displays for the rest. And Donizetti's score abounds in this, with not a single dull moment. The musical timing, elegance and comedy are spectacular, a fact which the audience at that first performance in Milan appreciated from the very start. It was a tremendous success, its fame spread rapidly and it has in reality never ceased being performed since that evening in May 1832. The opera made its first appearance in Sweden in Stockholm 1840 and in Gothenburg 1849. The ever critical and pedantic Donizetti toned down his initial harsh opinion of the singers who were part and parcel with the making of this success: he acknowledged that the German soprano Sabine Heinefetter had a lovely voice, Giambattista Genero's Nemorino was "acceptable" while Guiseppe Frezzolini as Dulcamara sounded a bit "pounding". Henri-Bernard Dabadie was the French baritone as Belcore who had in fact also played the same character in Scribe/Auber's opera Le philtre in Paris the year before. Each one of them had touched the magical love potion, whose elixir continues to imbue a fresh sense of vivacity in its audience 180 years later.
Recommendations from the Opera Shop
Complete recording with Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti in top form.
2 CDs - SEK 179
Critically-acclaimed recording from Vienna with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon in the main roles.
NB. Currently out of stock