Bonus: it helps me organize my study of the art of Otto Schenk. Because here we have ur-Schenk. It’s CUTE!
Donizetti, L'elisir d'amore. Wiener Staatsoper, 12/21/2010. Production by Otto Schenk, conducted by Guilermo García Calvo with Julia Novikova (Adina), Ramón Vargas (Nemorino), Tae Joong Yang (Belcore), Alfred Sramek (Dulcamara), Elisabeta Marin (Giannetta)I’ve never found never found Ramón Vargas’s forrays into bigger rep very convincing; he lacks a certain vocal heroism and stage authority (his earlier, more lyric efforts are excellent). But those would be liabilities when you’re Nemorino, and last night he turned in a free-wheeling performance of joyous singing and wonderfully undignified acting. It wasn’t very polished in an acting sense, but come on, it’s Nemorino, the primary task is to be endearing and dumb. And Vargas has that down, much more than Flórez in October. Vocally he sounded better than I’ve heard him in ages, with sweet tone and unbroken legato, though he sings pretty much everything forte and the one time he tried a piano (cadenza of the Lagrima), he immediately went flat. But such are the costs of the spinto years.
|Yes, that's La Netrebka. Only photo I could find.|
I didn’t notice anything distinctive coming out of the pit but Guillermo García Calvo kept things together a lot better than Yves Abel did in October.
Otto Schenk’s production makes a better visual impression from the gallery than it did from the Parterre Stehplatz, because you can appreciate the depth of the stage and don’t see the dopey and wrinkly backdrop that clearly. But it still has the colors and details of a picture postcard and none of the texture that brings something to vivid life, or the ideas that would focus the story in any particular direction beyond a children’s book. People really like skipping around in circles in this production. It’s totally kitsch, and while L’elisir d’amore isn’t exactly an opera of extremes, if can be more touching and human and less old-fashioned cute if you give it a push.
Of course it probably looked better in 1973, when this production premiered. A coat of paint would do wonders, though it wouldn’t make it be about anything. Remember, you can see this production on DVD with Anna and Rolando. But if you're just looking for an Elisir, I recommend Angie and Roberto in happier days more highly.