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Elixir of Love is a classic
Comedy is not a concept which naturally comes to mind when thinking of opera, but Gaetano Donizetti’s Elixir of Love currently being staged by the Picoplat Classical Music Development Foundation of T&T for Operafest 2018 intertwines the two in a seamless fashion to produce an awe-inspiring performance.
Donizetti’s romantic comedy plays out in 1940’s Trinidad, as Nemorino (Edward Cumberbatch) spends his last 50 cents to buy a magic potion from the snake oil salesman Dulcamara (Krisson Joseph), to win the fickle heart of Adina (Natalia Dopwell) before she marries the dashing army sergeant Belcore (Paul Cort). The play truly comes across as a slice of Trinbagonian life, with “macocious” villagers and a healthy dose of bacchanal, aided by a superb set designed by Daniella Walcott. Audience members alternately laughed at some characters and sighed in sympathy with others.
Edward Cumberbatch’s acting as the lovelorn Nemorino is superb, as is Dopwell in the role of Adina. Belcore, played by Paul Cort, comes across as uncouth and unattractively persistent, but portrays the appeal of a man in uniform with panache. The classically trained singers left the audience stunned as they sang their way through the story. The storyline was simple and easy to follow, even without the thorough description included in the programme.
Krisson Joseph’s Dulcamara inspired an audience member to say he reminded her of Trevor Sayers, as he alternately convinced the gullible villagers to buy his potions while whispering to the audience that they were simpletons for believing his claims that they could cure everything from rabies to measles, make old people young and give riches and stamina to the drinker.
Dramatic director Helmer Hilwig is to be commended as all involved, including the villagers, fully portrayed their roles as though they were living in the moment. The musical direction of June Nathaniel was also evident in the wonderful attention to detail of the production. The performance was not amplified, but patrons at the back and in the balcony of the Little Carib Theatre were able to hear every word sung by the chorus and principal actors. The chorus members, including Anneliese Kelly, Christiana Lemessy, Clarice Beeput, Deborah Aboud, Inex Matouk, Jake Salloum, Kory Mendez, Jason Lawrence, Christian Roberts, Stephan Poon Ying, Marc Morancie and Jodel Latchman, provided a “robust performance,” according to an audience member.
There was another performance of The Elixir of Love last evening, Friday, with a repeat tomorrow, at the Little Carib Theatre, corner White and Roberts Streets, Woodbrook. Last night’s performance also included the Opera Lime, where patrons were encouraged to lime at the opera with their friends who would not normally go to that kind of production.
There is no performance this evening as the singers do not use microphones so need to rest their voices.
Tickets cost $200 and are available at the Little Carib box office. For show times and more information, go to www.ttoperafest.com and find T&T Opera Festival 2018 on Facebook.
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