100 bästa operorna – 59 Kärleksdrycken av Donizetti

5 januari 2010

59 – L’Elisir d’Amore by Gaetano Donizetti

L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) is a melodramma giocoso in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

Place: A small village in the Basque Country.
[The Schirmer English edition of the score states that the action takes place ‘In a small Italian Village’].
Time: The end of the 18th century

Act 1

The opening of this comic opera finds Nemorino, a poor peasant, in love with Adina, a beautiful landowner, who torments Nemorino with her indifference. When Nemorino hears Adina reading to her workers the story of Tristan and Isolde, he is convinced that a magic potion will gain Adina’s love for him. He is afraid she loves the self-important Sergeant Belcore who appears with his regiment and immediately proposes marriage to Adina in front of everyone. The traveling quack salesman, Dulcamara (the self-proclaimed Dr. Encyclopedia), arrives, selling his bottled cure-all to the townspeople. Nemorino innocently asks Dulcamara if he has anything like Isolde’s love potion. Dulcamara says he does, selling it to Nemorino at a price matching the contents of Nemorino’s pockets.

Unknown to Nemorino, the bottle contains only wine. And, in order to make a timely escape, Dulcamara tells Nemorino the potion will not take effect until the next day. Nemorino drinks it, feeling its effects immediately. Emboldened by the ‘elixir’ Nemorino encounters Adina, and although she teases him mercilessly, the audience senses that the attraction just might be mutual, were it not for the marriage proposal of the impressive and pompous sergeant. In fact, their wedding date had been set for six days hence. Nemorino’s confidence that tomorrow he will win Adina by virtue of the elixir, causes him to act indifferently toward her. This upsets Adina, but she attempts to hide her feelings. Instead, she ups the ante as well by agreeing to Sergeant Belcore’s alternate suggestion: that they marry immediately as he has just received orders that the regiment must ship off the next morning. Both Adina and the Sergeant gauge Nemorino’s reaction to this news, the Sergeant with resentment, Adina with despair. Nemorino is, of course panicked, and cries out for Doctor Dulcamara to come to his aid.

Act 2

Adina’s outdoor wedding party is in full swing. Dr. Dulcamara is there, and performs a song with Adina to entertain the guests. The notary arrives to make the marriage official. Adina is sad to see that Nemorino has not appeared. Everyone goes inside to sign the wedding contract. But Dulcamara stays outside, helping himself to food and drink. Nemorino appears, having seen the notary, realizes that he has lost Adina. He sees the Doctor and frantically begs him for more elixir, of the type that will work immediately. But because Nemorino has no money, the Doctor refuses, disappearing inside. The Sergeant emerges, alone, wondering aloud why Adina has suddenly put off the wedding and the signing of the contract. Nemorino spots his rival, but is powerless to do anything. The Sergeant asks about Nemorino’s dejection. When Nemorino says he has no money Belcore immediately suggests that if he joins the army he’ll be paid immediately. He produces a contract, which Nemorino signs (with an X) in return for the cash Belcore gives him on the spot. Nemorino privately vows to fly to Dulcamara for more potion, while Belcore muses that he has easily dispatched of his rival by sending him off to war.

Later that evening the women of the village are gossiping that Nemorino is unaware that he has just inherited a large fortune from his deceased uncle. They spot Nemorino, who has clearly spent his military signing bonus, and has bought and consumed a large amount of ‘elixir’ (wine again) from Dr. Dulcamara. The women approach Nemorino with overly friendly greetings, the likes of which he has never seen. This is proof to Nemorino that this dose of the elixir has worked. Adina sees Nemorino in a jolly mood and, encountering Dr. Dulcamara, wonders what has gotten into him. Dulcamara, unaware that Adina is the object of Nemorino’s affection, tells her the story of the smitten bumpkin who spent his last penny on the elixir, and even signed his life away, joining the army for money to get more, so desperate was he to win the love of some unnamed cruel beauty. Adina immediately realizes Nemorino’s sincerity, and regrets teasing him. She falls for Nemorino, basking in the sincerity of his love. Dulcamara interprets this behavior as some sort of condition requiring a cure by one of his potions.

They depart. Nemorino appears alone, pensive, reflecting on a tear he saw in Adina’s eye when he was ignoring her earlier. Based on that tear alone, he is sincerely convinced that Adina loves him. She enters, asking him why he has chosen to join the army and leave the town. When Nemorino says he’s seeking a better life, Adina responds by telling him he is loved, and that she has purchased his military contract from Sergeant Belcore. She offers the cancelled contract to Nemorino, asking him to take it. He is free now. She says, however, that if he stays, he will no longer be sad. As he takes the contract Adina turns to leave. Nemorino believes she is abandoning him and flies in to a desperate fit, vowing that if he is not loved, if the elixir has not worked, and the Doctor has fooled him, then he might as well go off and die a soldier. Adina stops him and confesses that she loves him. Nemorino is ecstatic. Adina begs him to forgive her for teasing him. He does so with a kiss. The sergeant returns, seeing the two in an embrace. Adina explains that she loves Nemorino. The Sergeant takes the news in stride, noting that there are plenty of other women in the world. Dulcamara, his bags packed, pops out of a doorway, adding that he will happily provide elixir for the Sergeant’s next conquest. A crowd has gathered by now, all agreeing that the elixir has done its job as they bid a fond farewell to the doctor.

Nemorino, a peasant – tenor
Adina, a wealthy landowner – soprano
Belcore, a sergeant – baritone
dr. Dulcamara, an itinerant medicine man – bass
Gianetta, a servant – soprano


This is one of Donizetti’s most performed operas, and I’d say one of the mostly performed comic operas as well. I’ve seen it on TV with Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu and it was a great performance. Even if I think that the person playing Belcore stole most of the show. Nowadays the setting is quite often changed to all kinds of environments, the last time it was performed in Sweden it was set in the 1950’s. I’m not sure how to describe this set from Amsterdam, with Bryn Terfel making a grand entrance as Dulcamara. There are many lovely pieces from the opera, the most famous is the tenor aria Una fortiva lagrima. Personally I think my favorite piece is the duet between Dulcamara and Adina, where she proclaims that since she’s a woman she doesn’t need any love potions to catch a man.



100 bäst operorna – 63 Don Pasquale av Donizetti

25 november 2009

63 – Don Pasquale

Don Pasquale is an opera buffa, or comic opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti.

Place: Rome

All the events of the opera take place in a single day. The young man Ernesto is in love with the lovely but penniless Norina and has refused to marry a ”more suitable” woman chosen for him by his rich uncle Don Pasquale. The old man accordingly plans to wed and produce his own heirs, cutting Ernesto off from his inheritance. Pasquale’s physician, Dr. Malatesta, suggests his sister, Sofronia, a convent girl, as the bride, all the while scheming to dupe the old man into allowing Ernesto’s marriage to Norina. The Don happily accepts the proposal. Malatesta has Norina disguise herself as Sofronia and sign a fake marriage contract before a false notary. At this point Norina transforms from the shy convent girl into a complete shrew, turning Pasquale’s life upside down, hiring hordes of new servants and spending money left and right. She makes life so miserable for the old man that he is actually relieved when he discovers that he has been duped, and that he has not really married Norina. He repudiates his desire for marriage and consents to the union of his nephew with Norina.

Don Pasquale, an elderly bachelor – basso buffo
dr. Malatesta, his physician – lyric baritone
Ernesto, Pasquale’s nephew – tenore leggero
Norina, a youthful widow – lyric coloratura
a notary – bass
I recoqnize the title as an opera that you hear about from time to time, even if it’s maybe not the most played of Donizetti’s operas. The synopsis is very much based on the old commedia dell’arte tradition and is easy enough. I can imagine an evening with this opera gets you happy and since it’s Donizetti the music is easy to listen to as well, and it’s pure fun as well from what I’ve found on the tube. Here is a scene and duet between Norina and Malatesta, Norina is played by Anna Netrebko. There is also this scene between Malatesta and Don Pasquale


Lucia di Lammermoor, Metropolitan 2009

31 oktober 2009

Nu när det är både allhelgona och halloween tyckte jag att det är passande att posta min recension av Lucia di Lammermoor, här förekommer ju spöken, vansinne, ond bråd död och en del blod.

Lucia tillhör en av de verkliga klassikerna i operavärlden. I den här uppsättningen har handlingen förflyttats från 1600-talet till viktoriansk tid, vilket innebär underbara kläder. Handlingen är en klassisk Romeo och Julia, två älskande som inte får varandra på grund av rivaliserande släkter. I det här fallet kompliceras det hela av att Julian, det vill säga  Lucia är helt klart psykiskt labil. Redan när vi möter henne första gången sjunger hon om hur hon ser vålnader och spöken, och det blir inte bättre när hon sätts under stark press från sin bror att gifta sig med en lämplig make, istället för den hon älskar. Genom diverse intrigerande går Lucia till slut med på att gifta sig i alla fall, men precis när giftermålet skett dyker Edgardo, hennes kärlek upp, vilket leder till ett totalt psykiskt sammanbrott. Lucia mördar sin nye make, hallucinerar och dör. När Edgardo får höra detta tar han livet av sig.


Mest känd av musiken från Lucia är hennes vansinnesscen, som anses vara den främsta inom den genren. Den är makalös, bjuder på storartat vokal akrobatik, men dessvärre måste jag säga att jag blev lite besviken. Kanske väntade jag mig för mycket efter att ha hört så mycket om den. Anna Netrebko gör ändå en strålande tolkning av Lucia, och hennes allt mer tilltagande mental förfall. Mariusz Kwiecien gör också ett starkt intryck som hennes bror, som bara tänker på att rädda sig själv och familjen och därför mer eller mindre säljer Lucia.


Det är en vacker bel canto-opera, med vansinnesscenen som höjdpunkt, men det finns också mycket vackert på vägen.


Slutbetyget blir 3 av 5 blodstänkta brudslöjor


100 bästa operorna – La Fille du Régiment av Donizetti

10 juni 2009

La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Written while the composer was living in Paris, the French libretto is by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. A slightly different Italian-language version (in translation by Callisto Bassi) was adapted to the tastes of the Italian public.


Act 1

The Tyrolean mountains

On their way to Austria, the terrified Marquise of Berkenfield and her butler, Hortensius, have paused in their journey because a skirmish has broken out. When the Marquise hears from the villagers that the French troops have retreated, she comments on the rude manners of the French people (“Pour une femme de mon nom”). Sulpice, sergeant of the 21st regiment, assures everyone that his men will restore peace and order. He is joined by Marie, the mascot, or “daughter,” of the regiment, which adopted her as an orphaned child. When Sulpice questions her about a young man she has been seen with, she explains that he is a local Tyrolean who once saved her life. Troops of the 21st arrive with a prisoner: this same Tonio, who says he has been looking for Marie. She steps in to save him, and while he toasts his new friends, Marie sings the regimental song (“Chacun le sait”). Tonio is ordered to follow the soldiers, but he escapes and returns to declare his love to Marie. Sulpice surprises them, and Marie must admit to Tonio that she can marry only a soldier from the 21st.

The Marquise of Berkenfield asks Sulpice for an escort to return her to her castle. When he hears the name Berkenfield, Sulpice remembers a letter he found near the young Marie on the battlefield. The Marquise soon admits that she knew the girl’s father and says that Marie is the long-lost daughter of her sister. The child had been left in the care of the Marquise, but was lost. Shocked by the girl’s rough manners, the Marquise is determined to give her niece a proper education and to take her to her castle. Tonio has enlisted so that he can marry her (“Ah, mes amis”). But Marie has to leave both her regiment and the man she loves (“Il faut partir”).

Act 2

The Berkenfield castle

The Marquise has arranged a marriage between Marie and the Duke of Krakenthorp. Sulpice is also at the castle, recovering from an injury, and is supposed to be helping the Marquise with her plans. The Marquise gives Marie a singing lesson, accompanying her at the piano. Encouraged by Sulpice, Marie slips in phrases of the regimental song, and the Marquise loses her temper (Trio: “Le jour naissait dans la bocage”). Left alone, Marie thinks about the meaninglessness of money and position (“Par le rang et l’opulence”). She hears soldiers marching in the distance and is delighted when the whole regiment files into the hall; she leads them in singing a patriotic tribute (”Salut à la France”). Tonio, Marie, and Sulpice are reunited. Tonio asks for Marie’s hand. The Marquise is unmoved by the young man’s declaration that Marie is his whole life (“Pour me rapprocher de Marie”). She declares her niece engaged to another man and dismisses Tonio. Alone with Sulpice, the Marquise confesses the truth: Marie is her own illegitimate daughter whom she abandoned, fearing social disgrace.

Hortensius announces the arrival of the wedding party, headed by the groom’s mother, the Duchess of Krakenthorp. Marie refuses to leave her room, but when Sulpice tells her that the Marquise is her mother, the surprised girl declares that she cannot go against her mother’s wishes and agrees to marry a man that she does not love. As she is about to sign the marriage contract, the soldiers of the 21st regiment, led by Tonio, storm in to rescue their “daughter.” The guests are horrified to learn that Marie was a canteen girl, but they change their opinion when she tells them that she can never repay the debt she owes the soldiers. The Marquise is so moved by her daughter’s goodness of heart that she gives her permission to marry Tonio. Everyone joins in a final “Salut à la France.”


Marie – soprano
Toni, a young Tyrolean – tenor
Sergeant Sulspice – bass
The Marquise of Berkenfeld – contralto
Hortensius, a butler – bass
A corporal – bass
A peasant – tenor
The Duchess of Krakenthorp – spoken
A notary – spoken

Now we come to an opera that is actually pretty popular to produce, not the least at Metropolitan that has done it as a digicast during the last season. Personally I find it an amusing, but not spectacular story. There is quite a lot of freedom to have proper comedians in the spoken parts as well, for example when I saw it Dawn French played the Duchess, and did it wonderfully. It’s also a good thing if you don’t know anything about the real geography of the area, since that will only get you confused. The most famous music from the opera is probably Toni’s ”A mes amis”, which is a real feat for any tenor. It comes early in the opera and contains 9 high Cs. Pavarotti’s breakthrough in the US is mainly attributed to his performing this aria in a Met production. One of the current tenors that have been associated with the role is Juan Diego Florez. Since it’s such a classic aria I’ve decided to post both Pavarotti’s classic performance of it and Juan Diego Florez’s so that you can compare them. The role of Marie is also a daunting one, demanding both a good actress and a good coloratura soprano. Here’s an excerpt of Natalie Dessay, from the same production as Juan Diego Florez.

Min recension av produktionen med Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Florez och Dawn French kan hittas här:

La Fille du Régiment

31 januari 2009

Innan jag satte på tv:n ikväll visste jag att operan existerade och att det var Donizetti som skrivit den, men det var väl allt. Jag hade ingen koll på handlingen och hade aldrig hört någon musik ur den. Slutintrycket är att det här var en riktigt trevlig liten opera, kanske inte någon som går in på min topplista, men väl värd att tillbringa några timmar med.

Handlingen är ganska enkel. Det är krig i gränstrakterna mellan Frankrike och Österrike (personen som skrev librettot verkar inte ha haft någon större koll på geografin och ger en del förvirrande name-drops). Marie har växt upp med ett regemente och är deras maskot/hushållerska, hon är kär i en österrikare som heter Tonio. Eftersom hon har lovat att gifta sig med någon i regementet tar han värvning. Då dyker hennes moster/mamma upp och tar med henne till det slott som hon borde ha växt upp i. Trots alla försök vill Marie inte bli någon fin dam, och inte heller gifta sig sonen till en hertiginna. Naturligtvis dyker hennes regemente upp och reder upp allt så att hon får gifta sig med österrikaren, som nu har fått medalj för sin tjänst i den franska armén.

Det är en trivsam handling, inget större djup men det sker en hel del oväntade vändningar. Den är inte fullt så enkelspårig som jag först trodde när jag började se den. Musikaliskt är det enda jag kan jämföra med L’elisir d’amore, eftersom det är den enda andra Donizetti-opera jag har hört helt och hållet. Det hörs att det är samma kompositör, dock saknas det väl några riktiga pärlor som man kommer ihåg när de sista toneran klingat ut. Marie må vara huvudroll i operan, men de bästa numren tas helt klart av Tonio och soldatkören. Det är också de som står för några av de mest komiska momenten, kanske för att mycket av humorn hos de övriga trots allt ändå är lite övertydlig. Tonio har en aria där han slänger ur sig nio höga C på raken, det är det klaraste musikaliska minnet från operan.

Uppsättningen är väldigt genomregisserad, här är det inte någon som bara står på scen och rör på munnen. Detta blir också än tydligare eftersom det även finns två rena talroller, och rollen som hertiginnan görs av självase Dawn French. Hon är strålande, och även fast operan är på franska får hon in en hel del engelska uttryck också. Natalie Dessay, som spelar Marie, är skicklig på att kombinera skådespeleri och sång. Här visar hon upp ett påtagligt fysiskt skådespeleri, som ibland nästan gör en nervös för att det är så överspänt. Eftersom jag såg dokumentären om uppsättningen innan vet jag ändå att det är ett medvetet val från regissörens sida.
Tonio spelas av Juan Diego Florez. Först tyckte jag att det var väldigt komiskt att se en tysk karaktär, som pratar franska, men spelas av en italienare med väldigt tydlig brytning. Han gör det dock storstilat. Jag tyckte att det verkade som en vanlig, tråkig, våpig tenor-roll,, men Florez gör alltihop med både allvar och naivitet att han blir alldeles trovärdig iallafall. Sen var hans höga C:n som tidigare nämnts det häftigaste i hela operan.

Själva scenografin var intressant, hela första akten utspelar sig på skrynkliga kartblad. I andra akten blir den mer traditionell med en salongsinteriör. Den verkar utspela sig kring första världskriget, även om Marie har en underbar klänning som helt klart är New Look, iallafall är det inte direkt någon flapper. Övriga kostymer är inte särskilt vågade eller överraskande, men snygg och välsydda.

Slutomdömet är att det är en opera som jag inte skulle ha något emot att se om i fler sammanhang, men jag kommer inte att gå och nynna på den eller desperat leta efter att få tag på en inspelning.

La Fille du Régiment (Donizetti) 3,5 av 5 snöklädda alptoppar


La Fille du Regiment

30 january 2009

Imorgon kväll kommer SVT att visa Donizettis La Fille du Régiment. Själva föreställningen börjar kl 21, men redan kl 20 visar man en dokumentär som heter ”Hur regementet fick sin dotter”. Uppsättningen är från London 2007 med Natalie Dessay i huvudrollen, jag är ganska säker på att det är samma uppsättning som gick vidare till New York och som senast i våras kunde höras på en av Metropolitans bioutsändningar.

Jag har aldrig hört operan, så det ska bli riktigt kul att se något nytt. Jag har tänkt att jag borde bredda mig mer och har under hela veckan funderat på att gå och se om biblioteket har någon opera, nu slipper jag göra det så det är ju bra.


ny vecka, mer youtube

4 november 2008

Ny vecka, och tänk att det är redan dags för Valkyrian nu på lördag. Trodde att det skulle kännas långt mellan gångerna, men nu tycker jag det är nyss som jag såg Rhenguldet. Undrar om jag ska ladda för Valkyrian med att först se min inspelning av Rhenguldet, det är nog så långt man orkar, jag tror inte jag skulle mäkta med ett äkta maraton från Rhenguldet till Ragnarök.

Inte traditionell opera, men rockopera. Tydligen får Jesus Christ Superstar sådär kritik, men Ola Salo får mycket beröm. Jag skulle gärna vilja åka och se den, men jag antar att nu är också alla vårens biljetter slut och jag har inte råd helt enkelt. Det verkar också som att det finns ganska rejäla slash-implikationer mellan Jesus och Judas, så jag antar att Kee skulle blivit väldigt lycklig av att se den.

Nästa stycke på min youtube-lista är ett bra exempel på att opera kan göras verkligt häftig. Eller vad sägs om inklippningen mellan ett (mixat) framförande av Il dolce suono (vansinnesscenen) ur Lucia di Lammermoor med ett rejält slagsmål i Det femte elementet.