[Met Performance] CID:32610
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
L'Elisir d'Amore {1} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 01/23/1904.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
(Debut: James Fox
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 23, 1904 Matinee
Metropolitan Opera Premiere


L'ELISIR D'AMORE {1}
Donizetti-F. Romani

Adina...................Marcella Sembrich
Nemorino................Enrico Caruso
Belcore.................Antonio Scotti
Dr. Dulcamara...........Arcangelo Rossi
Giannetta...............Isabelle Bouton

Conductor...............Arturo Vigna

Director................Karl Schroeder
Set Designer............James Fox [Debut]

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

Alternate title: The Elixir of Love; Elisir.

Review of W. J. Henderson in the Sun

"L'ELISIR D'AMORE" SUNG

A DELIGHTFUL REVIVAL AT THE OPERA

A Work by Donizetti Heard for the First Time in Twenty-one Years - Mme. Sembrich and Mr. Caruso Sing New Parts With Great Success

Donizeti's comic opera "L'Elisir d'Amore" was produced at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday afternoon. Although this charming little work is quite unknown to the present generation of operagoers, there was a large audience. This must be attributed chiefly to the natural desire to hear Mme. Sembrich and Mr. Caruso in new parts, though possibly curiosity played a not unimportant part in sending so many people to the opera house. Those who went were amply repaid, for the revival proved to be a delightful one and the performance was bright and spirited.

The Italian version of the opera was last given in this city at the Academy of Music on Dec. 7, 1883 when Etelka Gerster sang the role of Adina, once a favorite part of Persiani. Those who remember that performance will easily realize how excellently Adina is suited to the gifts of Mme. Sembrich. The tenors of Col. Mapleson's company of that season, however, would hardly make Nemorino appear wholly fitted to the capacities of such a singer as Mr. Caruso. He shared the honors of yesterday's reproduction with the soprano. The opera was given in English by the Bostonians at Niblo's Garden in 1888.

When Scribe wrote the text of "Le Philtre," for which Auber composed the music, Richard Wagner was many a long and weary year away from his "Tristan und Isolde" period. Yet Scribe had read some version of the old love tale. The text of "Le Philtre" is that of "L'Elisir d'Amore," and the opera will serve admirably as a comic pendant to Wagner's mighty tragedy of passion.

It is not at all likely that Mr. Conried was thinking of this when he arranged the repertoire for the week so that Donizetti's opera followed Wagner's drama, which was given on Friday night. Sometimes the eternal fitness of things takes care of itself.

At the [beginning] of "L'Elisir d"Amore" Adina the heroine is reading the story of "Tristan and Isolde," or as she calls it in choice Italian "Isotta e Tristano." Wherever Scribe found the version, Wagner might have blamed him as Wolfram blamed Kiot of Provence for telling the tale incorrectly. As Adina repeats it to the interested chorus, Tristan was mightily in love with Isolde, but was not loved in return. Thereupon he procured from a magician a love draught which he took, and from that hour the lady was his to command. Furthermore, she was glad of it, because she became a happy wife.

Nemorino, who loves Adina, and is treated by her with the scorn of a wicked little coquette, wishes that he had such an elixir, and his wish grows when Sergeant Belcore arrives in a fetching uniform and the fair one flirts desperately with him. Dr. Dulcamara, a quack, arrives, and learning the dire need of Nemorino, promptly furnishes him with an elixir, which is nothing else than a bottle of potent liquor. Nemorino filled with this divine draught, gives Adina indifference for indifference, and piques that damsel so much that she announces that she will marry the Sergeant.

Nemorino, in despair, yearns for more elixir, for the doctor tells him that is what he needs. He has not enough money to buy it, but Sergeant Belcore offers him good pay in the army and he enlists to get the money. Just about this time the village gossips learn that Nemorino's uncle has died and left him a tidy fortune.

All the girls set their caps at him and he thinks that the elixir is working at last. Adina, when she learns that he has enlisted is moved to pity, purchases his discharge and accepts his hand. Scribe does not tell us that she, too, has learned of that tidy fortune, but we may cherish our own private views on that point.

Of course, this is good comedy, and we have not now to learn that the composer of "Don Pasquale" and "La Fille du Regiment" is happy in setting such material to music. The score of "L'Elisir d'Amore" is charming throughout. It is less frankly simple in style than "The Daughter of the Regiment," but it is fluent, facile and dainty.

The role of Adina abounds in colorature passages, and it is safe to say that no other singer than Mme. Sembrich known to this public, could undertake the part with any certainty of success. The impersonator of Adina must be a consummate comedian, and yet be not without the note of sentiment and sincerity. Adina really loves Nemorino, and she must show that his pleadings reach her heart even while she is laughing at him.

This Mme. Sembrich did with exquisite skill, but only good opera glasses continually trained on her mobile face would reveal the perfection of her achievement. It goes without saying that she sang the music beautifully. Her colorature was never better in the brilliant air of the last scene. Operagoers will rejoice that the revival of Donizetti's opera has brought forward a delightful addition to the repertoire of a great artist.

Mr. Caruso had a splendid success with Nemorino. This part demands something more than good singing. The impersonation of Nemorino must be a good comedian and Caruso disclosed unsuspected humorous powers. He was capital in the comic episodes, while he rose to the full measure of the serious needs. He has never done anything better here than his beautiful singing of the air in the last scene. The audience rose at him and literally compelled him repeat the number.

Mr. Scotti dispensed with a good deal of the troublesome colorature of the Sergeant, and gave a sensible, manly and tuneful interpretation of the part. Mr. Rossi as Dr. Dulcamara treated the audience to a bit of typical Italian buffo fun. He was an operatic low comedian of most excellent parts. Miss Bouton was acceptable in the small role of Gianetta.

Mr. Vigna conducted skillfully and the orchestra had no trouble with the score. The accompaniments of the secco recitativo by bass and cello, however, would have made Dragonetti and Bottesini gasp and stare.



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