L’elisir d’amore @ De Munt/La Monnaie

InleidingThe lovely light opera L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti was recently given at the awful Cirque Royal in Brussels. Having a round stage there is no optimum place, not for the orchestra and not for the singers: acoustically speaking, one will inevitably be in the way or unbalanced. The setting was redesigned for a round stage, however and together with the direction is absolutely worth seeing. This is by the talented Damiano Michieletto and has travelled much in the last few years (Madrid, Palermo, Graz, Valencia). Traditional-setting-aficionados will be disappointed as there are no Basque countries, no farms, no washerwomen, no garrison sergeants etc, instead we see the beach, a lifeguard (Nemorino), a beach kiosk, beach vendors etc. The skilfully transposed setting however works well due to a setting that everybody can relate to, a sparkling and funny direction and an astonishing work on the personalities and traits of the characters. Characters that Donizetti puts also in music. The sighs, the laughs, it’s all in the score. The conductor  keeps the music going, but very little chiselling is done in terms of getting the details out of the score. Also, in a period of increasing musical phylology, the elimination of the repetition of strettas and cabalettas is unacceptable.

elisirThe cast is mostly doubled. Anne-Catherine Gillet is an artist with discontinuous results. But I found her Adina good, her lower register is strong enough to avoid a soubrette-like voice and her coloratura fluid. Her Achilles heel is the top register which is hard and at the verge of shrill so “Vieni, per me sei libero” is sung like walking on eggs instead of being a sparkling outbreak of joy for the found love. But throughout the performances her confidence grew and Gillet displayed a very convincing Adina. On stage her Adina is a bit shrew-ish with an angry body language. Olga Peretyatko on the other hand is charmingly fickle and whimsical. Vocally she is more at ease with the belcanto style. About pronunciation I will refer to Donizetti; When L’elisir d’amore had its premiere in 1832, he wrote about his primadonna something that fits like a glove also to the two ladies here: La donna ha bella voce ma cio che dice lo sa lei (The primadonna has a beautiful voice but only she knows what she is saying). Antonio Poli and  Dmitry Korchak both offer a very compelling Nemorino, melancholic or strong as required, their phrasing varied, and their acting credible as clumsy and melancholic admirer. Armando Noguera and Riccardo Novaro are both very convincing on stage and sing well although the voices are sometimes lost in the space of the Cirque Royal. Aris Argiris acts very well but has some difficulty with the higher register and his vocalises are not fluid. Simon Orfila is an excellent Dulcamara, a fine actor and his voice uniform over the whole range. Giannetta is vocally and scenically well embodied by Maria Savastano.

Music director-Thomas Rösner, Director-Damiano Michieletto, Set design-Paolo Fantin, Costumes-Silvia Aymonino, Lighting-Alessandro Carletti, Adina-Anne-Catherine Gillet, Olga Peretyatko, Nemorino-Antonio Poli, Dmitry Korchak, Belcore-Armando Noguera, Aris Argiris, Dulcamara-Riccardo Novaro, Simon Orfila, Giannetta-Maria Savastano


  1. wow. Non è molto chiaro per me, ma davvero, Lei è italiano??
    Giusto per farmi migliorare, che cosa non ha capito nella mia pronuncia?))

    • Dear Adina,
      Before I answer, let me tell you that you accompanied my operatic life several times. And although I was skeptical with your Desdemona in Pesaro (the door-Otello), I started to admire you as Giulia (Scala di Seta). You looked superb in Sigismondo and your Aldimira is one of my fondest memories and most watched DVD’s. And if Aldimira was not enough, Didone and Cerere followed to impress. And of course Matilde. So for me it is a real joy to hear you sing. Elisir is a bit special. It’s less conventional than for eg a Rossini partially anchored in classicism, it’s Italian flair, it’s about showing all facets, being malicious, devious, tender, lovingly, flirtatious. It’s a wonderful character, but if I cannot understand all that, it looses interest. And yes, I am Italian and yes I admire you as an artist, and I will always applaud you screaming “brava”, and the acoustic of the Cirque didn’t probably help, but yes, not everything was understandable. And I must admit it’s a severe judgment seen how much I enjoyed the production, but I wrote it because I hold you in high regard.
      With love

  2. Dear Armida,
    Thank you for your critic. Of course, it was my first Adina, and my first real experience in bel-canto. And of course, i still have to migliorare a lot of things. And i understood, but it was a little bit late, that one of the challenges was to avoid to give and to play only an angry girl…Adina-Anne-Catherine

    • Dear Ms Gillet,
      nice to see you have read my blog. Indeed, first big belcanto experience, although I started to appreciate you as Barbarina and Clorinda in Ghent, Jemmy in Liege and some others. But you made a big impression on me as Cendrillon in the Monnaie. Very charming also as Madame Tell in Gretry’s Tell. But then there was Gilda in the Monnaie and I went to see L’elisir d’amore with many prejudices. All of which were swept away when I heard you sing Adina: from the clean triplets in “ne sapessi la ricetta”, over the uniformly voiced “Per guarir da tal pazzia”, to the spirited “Il mio rigor dimentica” (the second time I heard it). And all of which made me wish to hear more of you. Even belcanto 🙂
      with all my respect

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