Vancouver Opera’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” intoxicates

What a delightful evening at the opera! Vancouver Opera gave us a colourful, cheerful, tuneful and exciting presentation. From the moment you sat down you knew you were in for a treat. Even the scrim was entertaining, with a lovely Italian countryside vista. It got better when the curtain was raised to show a scene of a Fall Country fair, complete with an ice cream cart, which rolled onto the stage seconds later. A lot of fun stage business from the chorus and supernumaries dressed in costumes that were truly inspired. Then they began to sing and I doubt there wasn’t a face in the audience not grinning ear-to-ear, or at least smiling broadly. Chinese soprano Ying Fang made her Vancouver Opera debut as Adina, who is really in love with Nemorino, a bashful, broke young lad who sells the ice cream to the villagers. What a superb voice. Crystal clear and diction that was astounding. Also making his VO opera as Nemorino was Canadian Andrew Haji. He was suitably gormless, innocent and sweet. Who wouldn’t love him? Ah yes, there’s trouble brewing when Belcore, played so well by Brett Polegato, appears to woo our sweet young heroine. But she demurs,secretly hoping Nemorino will come to his senses and admit his love for her.
Enter the purveyor of the magical “Elixir” — played to perfection by Stephen Hegedus. His Dr. Dulcamara is hilariously resplendent in a purple cut-away coat and matching trousers. Hegedus, it seemed, was born to comedy. Not over the top, but hilarious and well thought out. The director, Brenna Corner adds so many delightful, often very subtle touches that make this production seem as though you really are visiting an old-fashioned village in Italy. The tension about the boy not getting the girl might have been heightened a bit, but hey, you already know the ending. It’s a comedy. Nobody dies in comic operas. And the Donizetti’s music is tuneful, sweet, evocative and spirit-lifting, beautifully brought to life through Jonathan Darlington’s deft direction.  This intoxicating production was the perfect antidote to a miserable, wet Vancouver evening. Go — rush and get last-minute tickets for the January 27th performance at 7:30 p.m. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Hamilton and Georgia Streets, Vancouver.

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