We went to hear the COC”s production of L’elisir D’amore Sunday afternoon (Nov. 29, 2017) at the Four Seasons Centre. If it didn’t surpass my expectations, it certainly lived up to them.
It is a very conventional production despite the band pavillion and Red Ensign flags. Resetting the time frame and location of operas sometimes lead to peculiar anachronisms. When Adina reads to the town's people, who Dulcamara refers to as “rustici”, they implore her to continue because they are enjoying the story and they are illiterate. In this production she’s the librarian and, as is made clear in the staging, everybody, including Nemorino, can read. Makes you wonder.
It is also a very silly opera but I knew that going in. I’d forgotten that Adina, described in the program as “bookish and confident”, is also revealed to be a manipulative minx which makes Nemorino’s entrancement with her and eventual capitulation hard to stomach. But so much for the plot.
The young principals are all Canadians, former members of the COC Ensemble and seem headed for international careers (Gordon Bintner is already at Oper Frankfurt) . Whether the company took a chance casting them rather then established international stars is a question for the box office but the audience enjoyed the show and laughed at the comic bits in the staging and the jokes in the surtitles.
Simone Osborne was a convincing Adina in voice and a surprisingly adept comic actress. I believe we’ve seen her in four disparate roles and she’s never disappointed. She evidently sang Micaëla in the COC’s Carmen which seems an odd choice for a Lyric Soubrette. The role is better suited to a Lyric Soprano and I don’t hear her voice going that way.
|Simone Osborne as Adina|
Andrew Haji was an amusing Nemorino, Ice Cream Man. Some would credit him with the best singing of the night. He possesses a beautiful Lyric Tenor voice and his rendition of Una Furtiva was just lovely, even touching. Someone of his girth would, however, never be cast as a romantic lead in straight theatre. He’s a young guy and if he’s going to remedy the problem he’d better get on it. Knees don’t last forever.
Gordon Bintner was a very funny Belcore. Who’d have thought such a fine singer would have a gift for physical comedy? He can act with his eyebrows and even his legs and feet.
Andrew Shore sang and acted a really good Dulcamara. I suspect they left in some of the routine cuts to give him more opportunities. The duet he and Adina sing, which he’s supposed written, of a dottering senator with his eye on a young rustica was amusing. I checked his bio and he’s had a wonderful career singing mostly buffo roles but also some very serious ones at English National, The Met and Bayreuth.
Lauren Eberwein, a current Ensemble member sang Gianetta and was charming in her moment with the Women’s Chorus as she reveals her knowledge of Nemorino’s good fortune.
There are a couple of more performance before this one closes and, if you like comic opera and really good singing, this is a show for you.