Review: L’Elisir D’Amore, Opera Live, Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge, September 12

PUBLISHED: 18:45 14 September 2020

Elmhurst Park in Woodbridge became an outdoor opera venue Picture: CHARMIAN BERRY

Elmhurst Park in Woodbridge became an outdoor opera venue Picture: CHARMIAN BERRY


It is hardly a secret that the last six months has been a period of unprecedented difficulty and disruption for everyone and every area of activity and employment will have faced their own specific challenges. For the performing arts the consequences have been particularly severe when productions in preparation have been cancelled at short notice, often with little or no compensation for the financial and artistic investment in the planned production.

Performers take to the stage in Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge  Picture: CHARMIAN BERRYPerformers take to the stage in Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge Picture: CHARMIAN BERRY

It was partly to address this issue and to give performers a platform that producers Lady Caroline Blois and Nick Fowler planned a performance of Donizetti’s popular opera ‘The Elixir of Love’ under the umbrella of the Woodbridge Riverside Trust. Well, not quite the usual Elixir, since the operatic world (and the rest of it) hasn’t quite returned to normal yet. The role of Giannetta was dropped, as was the chorus and the orchestra was slimmed down to a string quartet and piano from where Andrew Leach also conducted. To obviate the need for plot summaries or surtitles Nick Fowler guided us through the action with a sharp wit.

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Anthony Flaum was a warm and ardent Nemorino, if a little strained in the higher registers. Philip Smith’s Belcore was well characterised and cleanly articulated while Rob Gildon as the wine-wielding Dulcamara sang and played the part with enjoyable elan. Lynsey Docherty gave an excellent performance of Adina, a strong but never overpowering voice and a fine range of tone and colour for the differing dramatic situations. All the solos came across well but the duets and other ensembles did have that extra touch of momentum.

The quartet of Greg Eaton and Helen Farrell, Jean Hudson and Nick Parry had a hard working 90 minutes and maintained a good level of accuracy and cohesion, just occasionally fading into the background. Andrew Leach covered the keys with easy fluency and kept the show firmly on the road.

To stage an event like this, in times like these, requires vision, determination and administration of the highest order. Everyone involved in this successful, enjoyable and uplifting occasion deserves our warmest thanks and congratulations.

Gareth Jones

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