The Elixir of Love
Australia's production of
opera The Elixir of
Simon Phillip's much-loved production of The Elixir of Love is set in an
Australian country town circa 1915.
"If you're doing a comic opera it's useful to get it as close to a
contemporary world as you legitimately can," he says, "because that
affords you the possibility of laughs of recognition as well as situation."
So how does the story of Elixir pan out down under? There's Adina,
the squatter's daughter who wants to play the field before settling down.
There's Nemorino, the lovestruck labourer who loves reading romantic poetry in
his spare time. There's Belcore, the English officer who fancies having a fine
young lady on his arm. Then there's the travelling larrikin, Dulcamara, who
offers to solve everyone's problems with a drop of the good stuff.
As Phillips points out, the regiment of soldiers and all the talk of
conscription mean that a modern adaptation would have jarred, but setting the
story in Australia in 1915 provides a rich vein of comic material to add to the
mix. It also inspired set designer Michael Scott-Mitchell and costume designer
Gabriela Tylesova to come up with one of Opera Australia's favourite entrances
when our heroine, Adina, rides into town on a corrugated iron horse.
Best of all, a knockout cast — Rachelle Durkin, Aldo Di Toro, Andrew Jones
and Conal Coad — means that Donizetti's music shines as brightly as ever under
the Antipodean skies.
Cast: Adina - Rachelle Durkin,
Nemorino - Aldo Di Toro, Belcore - Andrew
Jones (until 26 Nov) & Christopher Hillier,
Dulcamara -Conal Coad, Giannetta - Eva
with Opera Australia Chorus conducted by Benjamin
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 20 minutes, including one 20-minute
interval. Performed in Italian with English surtitles.