This studio recording was made in 1989 coinciding with a memorable production from the Metropolitan Opera, later captured on DVD. It's a delightful performance, and a wonderful highlight of Pavarotti's later career. Kathleen Battle's sparkling soprano is a brilliant accompaniment to Pavarotti's still-ringing tone.
"Pavarotti's voice was still beautiful and pliable, his phrasing exquisite. And he loved the role of Nemorino and always seemed happy with both its comedy and pathos–he steals every scene he's in, and no one minds…Kathleen Battle sings Adina with perfect, pearl-like tone, absolute fluency and commitment, and a trill to die for…Enzo Dara is an ideal Dulcamara, just the right combination of huckster and sentimentalist, with ease in every register and with fast music."
– Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Rolando Villazón as Nemorino exhibits a real gift for comic acting, manipulating his rubber face into dozens of hilarious poses, flawlessly turning stock comic gestures into laugh-out-loud moments, and even juggling apples with the panache of a circus performer. More important, he uses his lyric tenor to sing the part with impressive subtlety, suggesting Nemorino's desperation while singing of his love for Adina. His big show-stopper, "Una furtiva lagrima," features melting pianissimos and a breathtaking decrescendo in its final phrase. Netrebko's Adina is every bit as good, with deft acting and a lovely lyric soprano voice that makes you understand why she's the only girl for Nemorino.
This black-and-white, wonderfully old-fashioned film of a live performance of L'elisir d'amore, complete with faded painted backdrops and no attempt to update or "make relevant" this delicious work, is, well, delicious–gorgeously sung and charmingly acted. The pedigree is impeccable. I can't recall a recent performance of an Italian opera with all-Italian forces, including conductor, and at the risk of sounding chauvinistically Italian, there really is something elegant and natural about an entire cast steeped in the language, rhythms, and idiom that keeps the Italian-opera tradition alive.–Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
The Decca performance of the Donizetti comic masterpiece L'Elisir d'amore is simply the best ever put on record. With the incomparable trio of Sutherland/Pavarotti/Bonynge at the peak of their careers, this performance of L'Elisir is one that you will turn to again and again – sheer delight from the first moments of the overture to the grand finale. One has to admit that some of Pavarotti's later performances can be difficult to listen to because of the strain in the voice, but not a hint of strain mars his performance here…
When Donizetti’s comedy, updated to the mid-20th century by the Uruguayan-born director Mario Gas, was mounted at Barcelona’s magnificent Liceu opera house in 2005, Opera News wrote that: “The absolute hit of the production was … Rolando Villazón, a commanding, vulnerable and hilarious Nemorino. His stage presence dominated every scene he was in …[and] his lovable innocence was a joy to behold. Villazón’s perfect technique and creamy, malleable voice conquered the audience … His athletic and expressive body language–midway between Cantinflas and Mr. Bean–fits this role and this production perfectly.” The Mexican tenor, making his debut at the Liceu, was called upon the encore the opera’s most famous aria, the plaintive ‘Una furtiva lagrima’.
Frank Dunlop's witty, unvarnished view of Donizetti's country comedy, updated to the 1930s, is delightful to see, wondrous to hear. Gheorghiu and Alagna make an ideal partnership as capricious girl and shy bumpkin. They both act and sing their roles to near perfection in a staging that exposes the heart and heartlessness as much as the fun of this work.
This marks Rolando Villazón’s directorial debut in a dual-role: stage director and star singer (main role Nemorino) at the same time, and it is a clear WINNER. Inspired by the cartoon character Lucky Luke and the Spaghetti Western-tradition, the tenor’s staging for the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus is not only a film studio in the thirties but also a Western at the same time. Lead by the dynamic young conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, who “…conducts very singer friendly” (Online Musik Magazine). Extraordinary visual production, and one of the most memorable European operatic events of 2012.
All of these are live recordings so the sound is quite variable. The standard square box contains separate soft plastic sleeves in which the cds are inserted. The advantage is that the cds are well protected (minor risk for scrapes compared to cardboard), but there is no information printed on the sleeve since it is made of plastic. There is some basic information printed on each cd (name, composer, cd #, the act/s and the date of the recording). There is also a small 24pg booklet that introduces the box including some photos as well as content description for each disc (opera, singers, time and location as well as a list of the separate tracks). I have been collecting these boxes for a while and always find it worthwhile as there are gems nicely interspersed in these collections. By Moonfish
Three new releases this month (March) feature tenor Rolando Villazon–a CD of Zarzuela arias, one of works by Monteverdi, and this new DVD of a performance at the Vienna State Opera in 2005 of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore. Villazon is a remarkably versatile tenor and he puts his individual stamp on everything he does. Nemorino was a role in the repertoire of all "three tenors" in the 1970s and '80s: Domingo brought a certain smoothness to it early in his career, but his voice soon grew too heavy; Pavarotti was simple, affectionate, and bright-toned; and Carreras had vulnerability and warmth. Villazon has it all… –Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com