[Met Performance] CID:290030
L'Elisir d'Amore {153} Metropolitan Opera House: 09/24/1987.

(Debuts: Sona Ghazarian, Ralf Weikert

Metropolitan Opera House
September 24, 1987

Donizetti-F. Romani


Adina...................Sona Ghazarian [Debut]
Nemorino................Carlo Bergonzi
Belcore.................Brian Schexnayder
Dr. Dulcamara...........Enrico Fissore
Giannetta...............Dawn Upshaw

Conductor...............Ralf Weikert [Debut]

Production..............Nathaniel Merrill
Stage Director..........Pamela McRae
Designer................Robert O'Hearn
Choreographer...........Todd Bolender

L'Elisir d'Amore received seventeen performances this season.

Review of Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times

The Metropolitan Opera's current production of Donizetti's "Elisir d'Amore," which began its run Thursday evening, can be counted a success simply for the presence of Carlo Bergonzi in the role of Nemorino. As Mr. Bergonzi acknowledged the extended ovation following "Una Furtiva Lagrima," it became all the more puzzling that the Met could have abandoned him in favor of the pedestrian tenors who took his place.

As if to underscore this point from the outset, Mr. Bergonzi leapt boldly into his first aria, "Quanto Bella," and managed to keep up the pace through most of the evening, although he seemed to grow just a little tired by the opera's final scenes. The tenor may no longer sing with the security in high notes or the full range of color he once possessed, but his graceful, solid musicianship is a rarity nowadays and there remains considerable beauty and power in his voice. He shapes phrases and sings words as if they really mean something to him. And although he does not usually undertake roles this light, nor does he look the young innocent that Nemorino is supposed to be, Mr. Bergonzi deported himself with charm and a gently avuncular comic touch. It was not difficult to see why Adina would prefer his endearing character to the stiff nobody of Brian Schexnayder's Sergeant Belcore.

The Met's production of "Elisir" by Nathaniel Merrill dates to 1960, and the simple, old-fashioned sets by Robert O'Hearn, with their ticky-tack houses and painted trees, now look worn and dated. They continue, nevertheless, to serve their basic purpose by not distracting from the principal business on stage, and in this era of extravagant operatic gadgetry, there was something especially winning about the cardboard-cutout balloon in which Dulcamara made his entrance.

The evening included Met debuts for Sona Ghazarian, a Lebanese-born soprano, as Adina, and for Ralf Weikert, an Austrian-born conductor who is music director of the Zurich Opera. Ms. Ghazarian maneuvered her way impressively through the part's elaborate passagework, letting out firm, ringing high notes. She sang at times softly and elegantly and sounded particularly sweet during her first-act duets with Mr. Bergonzi. Her tendency, however, was to pull out the sort of vocal artillery more suited Puccini's Tosca than to Donizetti 's flirtatious heroine. lmpressive though the resulting fireworks were to hear, one suspected that Nemorino was getting more than he bargained for with this Adina.

The emphasis throughout the evening was on vocal display, and Ms. Ghazarian shared with the other cast members a haphazard approach to the duets of acting that resulted in pleasant, cheerful but lax theatrics and unpersuasive relationships. Mr. Weikert's cautious tempos and sluggish dynamics furthered the impression. While admirably relinquishing center stage to his vocalists, the conductor might also have helped push the action more briskly and smartly along.

As for the remainder of Thursday evening's cast, Dawn Upshaw, the Giannetta, gave, a gentle lilt to her lines as the aspirant for the wealthy Nemorino's affections. Enrico Fissore's Dulcamara blustered a good deal without making a strong impression as the conniving con man.

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