I’m a firm believer in the fact that you should try new things every once in a while so when a press invitation to the opera dropped into my inbox, I practically jumped at the chance to go! Glyndebourne opera house based in Lewes, East Sussex have been producing operas since the 1930s and every year since 1968 their ‘Glyndebourne Tour‘ has been taking opera to the masses across the UK. Fortunately for me, the Marlowe Theatre is one of the venues that the opera house visits so I was able to go and see a piece of opera in the flesh last night. L’elisir d’amore is the opera I was invited to see and it forms part of a group of operas that the company are taking on tour this year: Rigoletto, L’elisir d’amore and Rinaldo. Originally penned by 19th century composer Gaetano Donizetti, the 2019 Glyndebourne revival of the opera is set in the 1940s instead of the original 18th century setting and is directed by Annabel Arden. Ahead of the performance I was invited back stage with Glyndebourne and after a behind the scenes tour and sneak peek at the rehearsals (coming to the blog tomorrow), I couldn’t wait to take my seat for the real thing.
Excited by the opera fan chatter in the Marlowe hallways, I took my seat in the circle at 7pm with a spectacular view of the stage. The entire performance was to be in Italian and I was in perfect view of the subtitles board if I needed them. The performance started at 7:15pm and the awakening of the opera sound across the theatre instantly made me whisper “wow”. To think that these performers could produce impressive volume without amplification was an alien concept to me. From the first musical bar, L’elisir d’amore instantly transported me back to 1940s Italy and enticed me into the world of opera.
L’elisir d’amore is a romantic comedy set in a small town in Italy, with protagonists Adina (Benedetta Torre, Glyndeboure 2019) and Nemorino (Sehoon Moon) at the centre. Adina is the popular girl that everybody in the town is fond of and by contrast, Nemorino is considered the town fool with little aspiration. Nemorino is absolutely smitten with Adina and despite her putting him in his place many times, he will go to extreme lengths to earn her love. Throw into the mix a travelling “doctor”: Dr Dulcamara (Misha Kiria) with an elixir of love, a rival for Nemorino: Belcore the soldier (Matthew Durkan) and you get quite an exciting 2 hours 10 minutes of entertainment.
The lead soloists had such great chemistry on stage together and I found myself smiling, laughing or feeling sorry for them (particularly Nemorino) many times throughout the performance. Even without spoken dialogue I was able to feel emotion towards the characters and this helps prove how music, body language and mime can evoke emotion in the audience to the same level that conversation can. The performers were always extremely animated and this really helped the audience understand what was going on, despite the different language.
The orchestra and performers worked together in harmony to create a joyful, funny and enigmatic piece of art. Every time the orchestra started playing a new piece of music, the chorus would appear on stage or move to a different location in time, portraying the townsfolk with great conviction. Sometimes melodramatic, each of them played a great part in recreating the gossipy culture of a small town or village. Many times throughout the performance the entire cast were on stage and at these moments, a wall of sound was projected across the theatre.
The set was just beautiful; an old Italian house with a courtyard protruding out into the audience. In Act 2 fairy lights were added to the set creating a wonderful, romantic atmosphere. It’s the little details like this that helped prepare the audience for the evolution of Adina and Nemorino’s story.
I had such a wonderful time watching L’elisir d’amore. It was so different to anything else I’ve seen, but that made the experience all the more exciting. The soloists and orchestra were able to create musical harmony together and take the audience on Adina and Nemorino’s journey. Glyndebourne is at the Marlowe Theatre throughout this week, showing their three operas to audiences across Kent. Tickets can be purchased via the Marlowe website.
A huge thank you to the Marlowe Theatre and Glyndebourne for the press opportunity and gifted tickets.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx