[Met Performance] CID:149010

L'Elisir d'Amore
Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, November 30, 1948

L'Elisir d'Amore (60)
Gaetano Donizetti | Felice Romani
Bidú Sayão

Ferruccio Tagliavini

Giuseppe Valdengo

Dr. Dulcamara
Salvatore Baccaloni

Inge Manski

Giuseppe Antonicelli

Désiré Defrère

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

L'Elisir d'Amore received ten performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Robert A. Hague in the New York Star


Having survived the sound and fury of another [first] night, the Metropolitan settled down to business-as-usual Tuesday with a non-subscription performance of Donizetti's comic opera, "L'Elisir d'Amore ("The Elixir of Love"), returning it to the repertory after an absence of six seasons.

"L'Elisir" is the opera which runs pleasantly if rather uneventfully along until 11 o'clock, at which point the tenor lead comes out on the stage all by himself and sings the tender aria, "Una furtiva lagrima," and if the tenor happens to be Ferruccio Tagliavini - as on the present occasion -- stops the show cold.

Caruso, I am told, also used to stop the show with this aria and, in the days when the Met allowed encores, was usually forced by the applause to repeat it. Tuesday evening, Tagliavini's admirers kept on cheering and applauding for several minutes, and the tenor had to come down to the footlights and throw them a kiss before they would allow conductor Antonicelli to proceed with the opera.

Aside from the famous aria, Donizetti's score is facile, graceful and sprightly, if sometimes a bit repetitious, and contains several tuneful and florid arias for soprano, one or two nice soprano-and-tenor duets and, at the end of the second act, a lively ensemble number with a familiar ring to it which engages the audience's favor.

The book is nonsensical business about a country bumpkin who woos a rich farmer's daughter with the aid of a bogus love elixir dispensed by a traveling quack. The twists of its farcical plot are a predicable as its happy ending, and the whole thing would be a pretty sorry and tedious mess if it were not played and sung by a cast of first-rate artists conversant with and completely at home in the Italian "opera buffa" style. Since in Bidu Sayao and Messrs.. Baccaloni, Tagliavini and Valdengo, the Met has just such a team, the evening passes painlessly and often quite merrily,

As the fabulous Dr. Dulcamara, purveyor of elixirs and panaceas, the elephantine Baccaloni has a role which gives his big bass voice and talent for broad comedy and exaggerated gesture an ample workout. Arriving onstage in a chariot drawn by two white horses, he delivers with fine relish "Udite, udite, o rustici," his sales spiel about his magical cures for all worldly ills; and he clowns through the rest of his assignment disarmingly.

Besides his quite beautiful singing of the show-stopping aria mentioned above, Tagliavini brings considerable warmth and purity of tone to the rest of his music, and his good-humored comic acting makes a likeable fellow of the stupid and lovesick Nemorino. Miss Sayao is animated and entirely fetching as the coquettish Adina and sings very prettily indeed. Valdengo's baritone is heard to good effect in the role of the lady-killing Belcore, and Miss Manski makes an attractive Giannetta.

Conductor Antonicelli sees to it that "L'Elisir" flows along smoothly and efficiently. The chorus does its job acceptably, and the whole production is pleasantly shipshape and spirited. Even the scenery looks unusually fresh after its long rest in the storehouse.

Photograph of Ferruccio Tagliavini in L'Elisir d'Amore by Louis Mélançon.

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