Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore makes a convincing case for opera as popular entertainment. Sure, there’s wonderful music involved, and one would not want to take anything away from the artistry required of the cast and the musicians. But at its heart, this is pure comic enjoyment from start to finish, a cavalcade of laughter and outright silliness that’s only tempered occasionally by flashes of deeper emotion. With just five principal roles, the score makes excellent use of the chorus, especially so in the scenes featuring just the women of the village or the men of Belcore’s army detachment.
As Belcore, Luis Orozco was a delight, capturing the pompous posturing and opportunistic dealings of his character in a dynamic performance that neatly united the physical and the vocal dimensions. Likewise, Zachary Owen was hilarious as the quack doctor Dulcamara. His entrances and exits in a tricked out pedicab were a signature of the production’s excellent design.
Adina is a wonderful role that provides a singer with multiple chances to shine, and Angela Mannino did just that. Mannino was particularly good at conveying the nuances of Adina’s evolving feelings for Nemorino in Act II. Finally, there was the outstanding Marco Cammarota’s memorable performance in the central role of Nemorino. Fluent and believable throughout, Cammarota stole the show with his heartbreaking rendition of Nemorino’s famous aria “una furtiva lagrima.” Standing close to the front of the stage with the main curtain closed behind him, Cammarota held the whole audience in his hands for those few moments, and it was thrilling.