Friday, April 26, 2013

Sunday Classics re-preview: Enter Donizetti's phony-elixir-seller, Dr. Dulcamara


Again, there's a reason why we've been listening to this particular performance of Donizetti's Elixir of Love. We'll get to that, finally, this Sunday (I hope).

by Ken

I'm afraid we got kind of hung up heading from last week's preview, "There's something about the opening of Act II of Donizetti's Elixir of Love," to a post based on Donizetti's great operatic comedy. But I don't mind further-previewing it.

In the original preview we indeed heard the opening of Act II, including the little performance-duet between the traveling quack Dr. Dulcamara and Adina.

DONIZETTI: L'Elisir d'amore: Act II opening, Chorus, "Cantiamo, cantiam"("Let's sing, let's sing"); Duo, Dulcamara-Adina, "Io son rico, tu sei bella" ("I'm rich, you're beautiful")
[For Italian-English texts, see last week's post.]

Mario Sereni (b), Sgt. Belcore; Renato Capecchi (b), Dr. Dulcamara; Angela Arena (s), Giannetta; Mirella Freni (s), Adina; Rome Opera Orchestra, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. EMI, recorded August 1966


For now let me just say again that there's a reason why we heard this particular performance of this particular excerpt, and we'll get to that Sunday, probably. Meanwhile tonight I thought we would hear Dr. Dulcamara's entrance in Act I, which at the Met used to be accomplished in a hot-air balloon.

We've got an odd assortment of performances here, all of them problematic in some respects, but there's no question in my mind that the most interesting from the overall performance standpoint, despite the not-all-that-interesting Dulcamara, is the broadcast-mono Florence May Festival performance conducted by the usually-unusually-interesting Gianandrea Gavazzeni. If we learn anything here, it is perhaps just how tricky it can be to find a workable tone for this deceptively tricky opera.

DONIZETTI: L'Elisir d'amore: Act I, Entrance of Dr. Dulcamara

Yevgeny Nesterenko (bs), Dr. Dulcamara; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra, Heinz Wallberg, cond. Eurodisc, recorded April 1982

Geraint Evans (b), Dr. Dulcamara; Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, John Pritchard, cond. Live performance, Jan. 7, 1976

Enzo Dara (bs-b), Dr. Dulcamara; Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra, James Levine, cond. DG, recorded May and Sept. 1989

Carlo Cava (bs), Dr. Dulcamara; Chorus and Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, cond. Live performance, June 1967


How the 1966 EMI L'Elisir changed my life. (Not all that happily, I'm afraid.)



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