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Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
L'Elisir d'amore (1832)
Judith Blegen (soprano) - Adina; Luciano Pavarotti (tenor) - Nemorino; Brent Ellis (baritone) - Belcore; Sesto Bruscantini (bass) - Dulcamara; Louise Wohlafka (soprano) - Giannetta; The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet/Nicola Rescigno
Directed by Nathaniel Merrill; Set and costume design: Robert O'Hearn; Lighting design: Gil Wechsler; Choreographer: Todd Bolender; Directed for 'Live from the Met' by Kirk Browning
Picture format: 4:3, Sound format: LPCM Stereo; DTS 5.1 Surround
rec. live, Metropolitan Opera, New York, 2 March 1981
DECCA 0743226 [132:00] 
Experience Classicsonline

Nemorino in L'Elisir d'amore was one of Luciano Pavarotti's signature roles; he sang it at the Met on forty-nine occasions in two productions. He first appeared in 1973 in the production that is seen on this DVD and then in 1991 in a new one. His last appearance in the role was in 1998. His participation is the main selling-point for this issue but to be honest he isn't the biggest attraction - at least not from a musical point of view. As an actor he is surprisingly youthful and nimble and seems to enjoy being the naďve Nemorino but by 1981 his reading of the music had turned into something fairly generalized and rough-hewn. The fine nuances and the flexible phrasing that characterized his readings when he was younger are sadly gone. Una furtiva lagrima is one-dimensional and coarse without much light and shade - but the ovations afterwards are monumental. Some artists are applauded not for what they actually do but for what they once were.

Brent Ellis is a convincing Belcore - scenically that is; as a singer he is only middling. For real pleasure we have to go to Judith Blegen and Sesto Bruscantini. Ms Blegen makes a charming Adina, lively and inviting and she sings ravishingly. Of recorded versions I have long held Ileana Cotrubas and Mirella Freni in high esteem and now I have to add Judith Blegen to my list. And Bruscantini? Well past sixty he has retained most of his voice and being a superb actor he steals every scene without making a caricature out of Dulcamara. It is one of the most grateful buffo roles and Bruscantini wrings every imaginable point out of it from his first arriving by balloon until leaving by the same means of conveyance. 

The experienced Nicola Rescigno knows the score inside out and holds together the performance admirably. It is beautifully staged with period sets and costumes, as so often at the Met. The choreography is also worth mentioning, especially the soldiers’ elegant ballet. 

In short: there is a great deal to admire, visually as well as musically and for Judith Blegen’s Adina and Sesto Bruscantini’s Dulcamara it is worth adding to the collection. And ... for those who are satisfied with full-throated but unsubtle tenor singing, Pavarotti certainly delivers the goods. 

Göran Forsling 



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