Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Italian opera meets the Australian outback when Donizetti’s tongue-in-cheek, heart-on-sleeve tale of a shy boy and a bold girl returns in this cheeky production directed by Simon Phillips.
Once a jolly doctor rode
into a country town
Handing out potions and
pills for a fee
And he sang as the
soldiers and gentlefolk all
Who’ll come a-wooing
Adina with me?
Director Simon Phillips much-loved production of Donizetti’s 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, Samuel Dundas and Conal Coad – means that Donizetti’s music shines as brightly as ever under the Antipodean skies.
“It’s bright, it’s bucolic, and it’ll be a barrel of laughs.” says Philips.
(until 27 August)
|Set Designer||Michael Scott-Mitchell|
|Costume Designer||Gabriela Tylesova|
|Lighting Designer||Nick Schlieper|
|Nemorino||Aldo Di Toro|
Running time: approx two hours and twenty minutes with one twenty-minute interval.