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A Real Surprise

Celso Albelo hits Venice as Nemorino
in Donizetti's 'L'Elisir d'Amore',


Several opera guidebooks -- such as Gustave Kobbé's The Complete Opera Book, centennial, world famous and still updated and reprinted every few years, and Gerhart von Westreman's more recent Opera Guide -- treat Gaetano Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore as a comic opera or even an opera buffa. They purport that, during the decades when Donizetti and his operas were nearly forgotten, L'Elisir never left the repertory, at least in secondary or provincial Italian theatres. This was because it is pure comedy with two hilarious characters (Dulcamara and Belcore) and a gentle young couple in love (even though, almost until the end, she pretends not to be interested in the fellow) as well as a comparatively easy orchestration.

Even now L'Elisir is often staged as a pure entertainment with emphasis on Dulcamara's chattering parlando, on Belcore's swaggering, on the sweetness of Nemorino and on the tricks of Adina -- the fifth character, Giannetta, has a very minor role both musically and dramatically. Nonetheless, Romani and Donizetti referred to L'Elisir as a 'melodramma giocoso', which means a semi serious opera like Rossini's La Gazza Ladra, Paisiello's Nina Pazza per Amore, Mayr's Lodoiska or Bellini's La Sonnambula...

Copyright © 3 November 2010 Giuseppe Pennisi,
Rome, Italy





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