Gaetano Donizetti, L’elisir d’amore

Adam Sweeting

By Adam Sweeting

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Some observers have long been convinced that Carlo Bergonzi was the finest Nemorino in the history of Donizetti's winsome comic opera, but until recently there was no complete recording of a Bergonzi performance available. Thrill, therefore, to this one, recorded live in Florence in 1967 and starring not only Bergonzi as the love-smitten bumpkin, but also the great Renata Scotto as Adina, the elusive object of his affections.

The finest Nemorino in the history of Donizetti’s winsome comic opera.

"Una furtiva lagrima" is L'Elisir's best-known tune, and indeed one of the all-time Greatest Hits of bel canto singing, but while countless tenors have sung it, few have matched the vulnerability and tremulous tenderness which Bergonzi brings to it. As conductor Gianandrea Gavazzeni slows the orchestra to a breathless shimmer, Bergonzi expresses Nemorino's ecstatic realisation that Adina has fallen for him at last. Judging by their response, the Florentine audience knew they'd heard a performance in a million.