(photo credit: YOSSI ZWECKER)
The main hero of Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love), performed at the Israeli Opera, was Omri Nitzan’s direction.
It has stood the test of time since its first performance 15 years ago, as remembered with its dancing sunflowers, and some embellishments, such as a shadow play on the back stage. The fun was increased by amusingly choreographed crowd scenes of the choir, and a lively pace of acting throughout, avoiding slapstick and also sticky sentimentality.
This stage direction radiated good humor, original ideas and refined taste, without taking itself too seriously.
Among the singers, Hila Baggio, as Adna, was particularly outstanding.
Her bright soprano, effortlessly climbing up even to the highest notes without becoming strained or shrill, combined with flexibility of tempi according to the text’s emotional significance, and her meticulously polished coloraturas were a pure joy to hear.
Stefan Pop made one understand why Adina preferred his seductive, soft lyric tenor, in the role of Nemorino, to Andrei Bondarenko’s appropriately rough, assertive, macho-like baritone, as Belcore. Pop’s tragic aria Una furtiva lagrima (“A furtive tear”) was one of the performance’s highlights.
Bruno de Simone’s humorously inflected baritone impersonated an amusing Dolcamara.
The Israeli Opera Chorus, noticeably identifying with the text, was a major participant of the performance.
Conducted by Omer Welber, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion sensitively adjusted its volume, tempi and emotional expression to the singers’ intentions.