Friday, May 12, 2023



National Opera

Music by Gaetano Donizetti

Original Libretto by Felice Romani

English translation by David Parry

Pocket Opera adaptation by Peter Coleman-Wright

Directed by Ylaria Rogers

Musical Director/Conductor: Leonard Weiss

Chorus Master: Louis Sharpe

Albert Hall to 13 May


Reviewed by Len Power 11 May 2023

Donizetti’s opera, ‘The Elixir Of Love’, is an enjoyable romp with great music, one of opera’s most well-known arias in ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’, an amusing plot and a happy ending.  National Opera’s Pocket Opera version proved to be a fun evening of just the highlights of the music with very good principle singers and chorus and an excellent musical accompaniment by Canberra Sinfonia.

Donizetti’s opera was written in 1832 and has stayed in the international repertoire ever since.  It is one of the most frequently performed of all of Donizetti’s operas.

Set in a small village in the Basque Country of Spain, a poor peasant, Nemorino, is in love with Adina, a beautiful landowner.  From hearing a reading of the story of ‘Tristan and Isolde’, Nemorino is convinced that drinking a magic potion will help him gain Adina’s love.  Complications follow with a shifty quack doctor, Dulcamara, with a supposed love potion, Adina unexpectedly betrothed to a soldier, Belcore, and all of the village’s women, led by Gianetta, suddenly interested in Nemorino when he comes into a fortune.  Of course, all is resolved happily for the lovers in the end.

From left: Matthew Avery (Dr. Dulcamara), Daniel Verschuer (Nemorino), Sarah Darnley-Stuart (Adina), Elsa Huber (Gianetta) and Sitiveni Talei (Belcore) and chorus

If you’ve got that basic plot in mind, or have a quick read before the show of the synopsis provided in the program, this Pocket Opera version is easy to follow.  The chorus perform in modern day dress with a suggestion of 18th century period in the costumes for the principals.  Ylaria Rogers’ direction also keeps the action clear and the principal singers have been well-rehearsed, presenting a believable depth of characterisation.  This is not just a ‘stand and deliver’ concert of songs.

All of the principals – Daniel Verschuer (Nemorino), Sarah Darnley-Stuart (Adina), Sitiveni Talei (Belcore), Matthew Avery (Dr. Dulcamara) and Elsa Huber (Gianetta) sang their roles very well.  Daniel Verschuer, as the peasant, Nemorino, has the best aria in the show in ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ (A Furtive Tear) and he gave it a fine performance.

Daniel Verschuer (Nemorino) and Sarah Darnley-Stuart (Adina)

There was also good singing by the strong chorus.  The scene of the women showing an interest in Nemorino because he is suddenly rich, was particularly funny and well done.  Chorus master, Louis Sharpe, has obtained fine vocal work from everyone.

The Canberra Sinfonia under the direction of Leonard Weiss gave a delightful and colourful accompaniment to the singers.  The harp playing of Weiss during ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ was especially charming.

National Opera have delivered an evening of fine music and singing, made even more enjoyable by the thoughtful direction of Ylaria Rogers.


Photos by Peter Hislop

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at