Several factors predispose one to liking Glyndebourne on Tour's new staging of Donizetti's perennial charmer. Lez Brotherston's design is like happening by accident upon one of those tiny Tuscan hillside towns. The crumbling stone façade of a rather grand old house leans gently away from a tiled courtyard edged with hardy plantings.
Enter, then, the conductor, Enrique Mazzola – shaved head, red shirt and matching glasses. And even before the overture has run its course, the director Annabel Arden has established a rural idyll with all the local villagers frozen in their labours. Our main protagonists are established, too: the loveable but penniless Nemorino (Peter Auty) and the object of his desire, the capricious Adina (Adriana Kucerova) who, realising she's being watched, just happens to be washing at the water-pump. Nemorino offers her an apple. Not quite what she had in mind.
But the plot is off and running and not a note has yet been sung. There are plenty of them, of course, and something even more critical, too: the style factor. Our would-be lovers have it to a degree. Peter Auty has the Italianate sound and if he can just introduce a few more "enticements" into his phrasing (homely portamento and the like) an international career could be on the cards. He had everybody's attention and admiration in the deceptively difficult "Una furtiva lagrima".
Ditto the Adina of Adriana Kucerova, whose star quality twinkled through every provocation. It's a small voice but limpid of tone and keen of focus. And she used the tantalising coloratura like a natural extension of her personality.
But the dice were slightly loaded in their favour. Massimo Cavaletti, as Nemorino's preening rival Sergeant Belcore, imagined his singing to be rather better than it was. And as the fraudulent Dr Dulcamara, Luciano Di Pasquale was that odd anomaly – a basso buffo with no bottom notes. In this production he had a mute assistant, Robert Luckay, bottling and dispensing the cheap plonk that eventually inebriates the whole jolly assembly – including the audience.
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