Bravo to a startling new tenor: TULLY POTTER reviews L'Elisir d'Amore

Bravo to a startling new tenor: TULLY POTTER reviews L’Elisir d’Amore at Glyndebourne Festival

L’Elisir d’Amore (Glyndebourne Festival Opera)

Verdict: Bravo to a startling new tenor


Booked for the last four performances of L’Elisir d’Amore, in the key role of Nemorino, Sardinian tenor Matteo Desole ended up having to sing all 14 — and scored a triumph on the first night.

It was a double debut: his first time on the Glyndebourne stage, and his first crack at Nemorino, ‘one of my dream roles come true’, as he writes on Facebook.

He gave a thoroughly likeable portrayal until the time came for his great Act 2 aria, Una furtiva lagrima.

Matteo Desole in the key role of Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore

As the opening bassoon solo ended, he took charge of the semi-darkened stage, singing with perfect legato, serene poise and beautiful tone. If it was not quite Caruso, it was up there with Pavarotti and the rest.

With British soprano Nardus Williams as a sassy Adina, Biagio Pizzuti as a swaggering Sergeant Belcore, Renato Girolami as quack Dr Dulcamara and Maxime Nourissat miming hilariously as his assistant, Annabel Arden’s 2007 production seems ageless.

Ben Gernon, in charge of the LPO, does most things well but should guard against crushing the life and lift out of faster passages by rushing them.

Don Giovanni (Glyndebourne Festival Opera)

Verdict: Don goes downmarket


The new Don Giovanni finds the talented Mariame Clément all at sea in a welter of non-sequiturs and even vulgarities — had a male producer perpetrated the serried ranks of boob-shots from anonymous women in Act 1, imagine the feminist outcries.

I am losing count of Don Giovanni sets with multiple doors or staircases — thanks to Julia Hansen, this one has both. 

The updating is unhelpful, the masqueraders have no masks, the cemetery scene looks like a funfair and too often the cast have to cope with distracting onstage fidgeting while they are trying to sing.

Andrey Zhilikhovsky is a louche Don, reminding me irresistibly of one of those Russian oligarchs and lacking aristocratic vocal finesse — it is rare to have a Leporello (the excellent Mikhail Timoshenko) who sounds more refined than his master.

For me, the vocal honours go to Victoria Randem as Zerlina, the only one to attempt stylish decorations, cadanzas and graces, although Venera Gimadieva is formidable as Donna Anna and Ruzan Mantashyan is a fine Elvira. 

Jerzy Butryn (Commendatore), Oleksiy Palchykov (Ottavio) and Michael Mofidian (Masetto) have their moments.

In the pit, Evan Rogister handles the period Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with skill. The Glyndebourne Chorus is superb in both operas.

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