Phil Channing

‘The Elixir of Love’

Music Academy Does Donizetti

Presented by Music Academy of the West. At the Granada Theatre, Sat., July 29.

While it may not enjoy the widespread instant name recognition of The Barber of Seville, its chief rival in the field of comic opera, Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) remains as perfect an example of the genre as anything ever composed. This shining production by Music Academy of the West brought out all the delightful details that make the Elixir so intoxicating. From the hilarious barcarole sung by the story’s love interest, Adina (Boya Wei), and the shady doctor, Dulcamara (Ben Lowe), to the harsh military strains that announce the entrance of Belcore (Geoffrey Schellenberg), Donizetti’s musical invention never flags.

For Joshua Blue, the young tenor cast as the love-struck Nemorino, the score offers a feast for the singer as actor. Scenes of genuine pathos, such as the famous cavatina “Una furtiva lagrima,” alternate with comic turns that call for him to perform with drunken abandon. Maestro Speranza Scappucci’s expert control of dynamics revealed the work’s powerful underlying structure. The sequence in Act II that begins in sotto voce, with Giannetta (Hannah Rose Kidwell) quietly informing the chorus that Nemorino is now a rich man, and then builds to a large ensemble featuring parts for Adina, Nemorino, Dulcamara, Giannetta, and the chorus was particularly exciting; orchestra and singers alike seemed borne onward into self-expression by the increasingly multidirectional composition. The success of the performances was heightened by the brilliant work of the design team in this thoroughly satisfying production.

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