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Glyndebourne brings Donizetti triumph to Canterbury

If you are not familiar with opera and imagine it is all deadly serious, over-blown and over-long, then L'elisir d'amore currently playing at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury will make you change your mind.

The comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti is just that - very funny.

Adina and Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore	Picture by Donald Cooper
Adina and Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore Picture by Donald Cooper

It is also - be warned - occasionally rude, in a Carry On sort of way, at least in this Glyndebourne Touring production directed by Annabel Arden.

It tells the story of two admirers both seeking the hand of the beautiful Adina. Nemorino (English translation Little Nobody) is a poor peasant with nothing to offer but his undying love. While Sgt Belcore (Beautiful Heart) is the handsome swaggering soldier admired by all the ladies.

When a quack doctor comes to town offering potions to cure every ill, Nemorino decides to give himself an edge by buying an elixir to make women fall in love with him.

Of course the potion is fake, but Nemorino's belief in it provides much of the humour.

Misha Kiria has the best role - and one of the best voices - as the scheming conman Dr Dulcamara. He is assisted in his quackery by a mute fool - a clown-like figure played by Maxime Nourissat, who has the rare distinction of appearing in an opera without actually singing a word.

Dr Dulcamara and his assistant in a scene from L'elisir d’amorePicture Donald Cooper
Dr Dulcamara and his assistant in a scene from L'elisir d’amorePicture Donald Cooper

Matthew Durkan is perfect as Belcore, who is still engaging despite his arrogance and bluster. (There are no real villains in this story!)

Of course Donizetti intends our sympathies to lie with Adina and Nemorino, played by the young Italian soprano Benedetta Torre - she is just 25 - and the Korean tenor Sehoon Moon.

Both have fresh young voices that are a delight to listen to, with Moon performing the opera's most well known aria “Una furtive lagrima” with great confidence.

Altogether a delightful night out. But don't wait around for the fat lady to sing - there are no fat ladies in this trippingly light-hearted opera.

L'elsir d'amore is at The Marlow until tomorrow, Thursday, November 7. Tickets range from £25 to £75. Book here.

For more ideas on days out and things to do, head to our What’s On section

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