The Review - CLASSICAL & JAZZ - with TONY KIELY Published: 13 November 2008
Elixir proves just the tonic
REVIEW: THE ELIXIR OF LOVE
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
YOU don’t have to go down to the West End for an enjoyable night at the opera.
For its autumn production, the Hampstead Garden Opera (HGO) is performing Donizetti’s ever-popular The Elixir of Love at The Gatehouse in Highgate.
It is a delightful performance directed by Bruno Ravella.
There’s a lot of swooning going on as the love potion handed out by the travelling salesman helps the young villager to win his heart’s desire.
Re-location from early l9th-century Italy to post-war Greenwich Village in New York works well.
Two casts of professional young singers at various stages of their careers perform on alternate evenings.
I attended the second night when cast ‘B’ had its first night.
Adina, the shopkeeper heroine torn between rivals for her love, was strongly and clearly sung by oratorio soloist Stefanie Kemball-Read. The part of Giannetta, the assistant and sister of Adina, was ably taken by Rebbeca Dale in her HGO debut.
Much of the evening’s success was down to the three male leads: Samuel Queen as Belcore competing for Adina’s affections; Philip Kay as the travelling salesman; and Robin Bailey in his HGO debut as the shy villager Nemorino. He took the great romance ‘Una furtive lagrima’, translated into English (‘A furtive tear’), with such exquisite phrasing, tone and balance that Donizetti’s music became quite intoxicating.
Although the 11-strong chorus was in good voice and made the most of the comic opportunities, discerning the words was difficult.
Orchestral support from the Dionysus Ensemble under music director Oliver-John Ruthven could have done with a lighter touch in places. The woodwind was outstanding, notably the bassoonist. Sebastian Taylor
Until November 16. 020 8340 3488
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