Uncorked Donizetti rendered with youthful charm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

 Sarasota–The received wisdom in opera is they comedy is tough and drama easy. The production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore currently running at Sarasota Opera disputes that view, achieving  the tricky balance of vocalism and laughs with seeming natural ease.

The difficulty in pulling off Elixir is to keep the comedy genuinely funny without descending to slapstick with singers who can deliver the humor as well as the arias’ long lines and coloratura.  Friday night’s performance was largely successful, due to two appealing young leads, both making their company debuts.

Edgar Ernesto Ramirez was born to play the role of Nemorino. The Mexican tenor has an innocent open-faced quality, perfect for the gullible lovelorn peasant whose love for the wealthy Adina is not returned. Ramirez has a flexible and vibrant middleweight tenor, which could have been wielded with more elegance and finesse in Una furtiva lagrime, but he handled the rapid-fire ensembles well and proved consistently amusing without crossing the line to mugging.

As the mercurial Adina, who spurns the poor Nemorino only to find she is really attracted to him, Mara Bonde brought an engaging charm to a character who can often be rather unlikable. Her soprano is decidedly slender, and Bonde didn’t always seem at ease in the high coloratura, but her voice has a graceful purity of tone, and she sang with agility and technical gleam.

As the rival for Adina’s affections, Michael Redding was a big-voiced Belcore, not quite possessing the military bearing, but singing well in the Act 2 duet with Ramirez and entering into the spirit of the proceedings. The ever-reliable Stephen Eisenhard was a worthy Dulcamara, alive to the comedy if a bit cautious in the patter arias.

With a colorful production in Sarasota’s traditional style, young conductor John Mario di Costanzo led the orchestra with a fizzing vitality and an impressive sense of Donizetti’s comedy style. In their prominent assignments the terrific Sarasota Opera Chorus proved a spirited and engaging cast of onstage characters.

Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore runs through March 27.  www.sarasotaopera.org.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Uncorked Donizetti rendered with youthful charm”

  1. Posted Mar 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm by Alberto Mederos

    I saw the performance of Elixir friday night and agree with you 100%.
    It is such a treat to go to Sarasota.
    Why doesn’t FGO make an arragement with them to bring their productions to Miami?

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Sun Mar 15, 2009
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