Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Elixir of Great Music

I don't know why previous listenings and viewings over my early years didn't impact me, but now the 19th-century Italian opera genius Donizetti has me in his thrall. From Maria Stuarda (Canadian Opera Company a couple of seasons back), to Lucia di Lammermoor (COC, then again a Met production, and the COC is doing one again this spring - can't wait), Don Pasquale and now L'elisir d'amore... I get drunk on this music for days, drive my workmates nuts whistling it (yes, I'm a whistler... strong lips... rrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrrrrrr).

It says a lot for the energy and talent of University of Toronto Opera School students that a Saturday evening performance of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore managed to be delightful, funny and sweet, just weeks after I saw the Met's HD live performance, which was as perfect as I could imagine.

The Opera School consistently produces work that bodes well for the future of the art form, and all on the remarkable sets of Fred Perruzza, who - surely on a tiny budget - never fails to enchant.

The Met production boasted three of the cast from another Donizetti a couple of season's back, Don Pasquale. Anna Netrebko (dashing and sexy in a riding habit), Mariusz Kwiecien (as Belcore he was a handsome bully, and a potentially abusive boyfriend for Adina) and Matthew Polenzani (breathtaking in his big aria) were all in top form, but it was Ambrogio Maestri (oh God, what a name) as Dulcamara (last picture) who stole the show; a perfect basso buffo with everything you could ask for in a great singing comic actor.

This just couldn't be bettered.

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