Tag Archives: Ellie Laugharne

REVIEW: The Elixir of Love – The Concert Hall, Motherwell

Scottish Opera’s latest touring production, Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, is a wonderfully witty, beautifully staged and finely sung treasure. An utter joy from start to finish, this is opera for people who think they don’t like opera. Donizetti’s gloriously melodic score is a treat for the ears and Oliver Townsend and Mark Howland’s charming and clever design – re-set from the 19th Century Mediterranean to a country garden in 1920s England, is simply gorgeous.

Humble gardener Nemorino is hopelessly in love with wealthy landowner Adina, but her head (if not her heart) is turned by the flashy Sergeant Belcore. But all is not lost when quack medicine man Dr Dulcamara literally rides into town, selling our hero a powerful love potion that promises to deliver the girl of his dreams into his arms within a day.

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Ellie Laugharne and Elgan Llyr Thomas as Adina and Nemorino in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

This effervescent production bubbles and fizzes throughout, thanks largely to the delightful cast, and as befitting this ‘male Cinderella’ story, it is the boys who dominate. Elgan Llyr Thomas is thoroughly appealing as our love-lorn hero Nemorino and his show-stopping Una furtiva lagrima (one single tear falls silently) is a real crowd-pleaser, but he doesn’t have the limelight solely to himself thanks to scene-stealing turns from Toby Girling as the preposterously pompous Sergeant Belcore and the outstanding James Cleverton as the dodgy Doctor Dulcamara, whose timing, sonorous tones and perfect diction are a masterclass in comic opera acting.

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James Cleverton as Dulcamara Scottish in Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

Mention must be made of music Derek Clark, who deserves plaudits for trimming Donizetti’s score from 53 instruments to five without losing any of its richness and the brisk baton of conductor Stuart Stratford who drives the score along.

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Ellie Laugharne, Elgan Llyr Thomas and Toby Girling in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

For a work that was written, if not in the two weeks that opera folklore claims, but certainly astonishingly quickly nearly 200 years ago, this sunny, funny, dazzling and delightful work is a five-star, must-see production.

Currently touring Scotland, booking information here: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/our-operas/16-17/the-elixir-of-love

REVIEW: Carmen, Scottish Opera – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Its accessibility; clarity of narrative; portrayal of an independent, strong-minded woman and a clutch of knockout, familiar tunes make Georges Bizet’s Carmen undoubtedly one of the best-loved operas of all time and certainly one of the most frequently performed (though, surprisingly not in Scotland*).

Scottish Opera present a re-working of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s 1999 staging of the work. Forming a bridge between the era of Opéra Comique and the realism of the later 19th Century Italian opera, Carmen is the perfect first opera. Bizet’s skill in representing character through music, the clear, linear narrative and the block-busting tunes, rarely fail to entrance.

Scottish Opera have delivered a solid, traditional and atmospheric production with a top-notch cast. Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Justina Gringyte is impressive as the head-strong gypsy temptress and her powerful voice does full justice to Bizet’s glorious score. Noah Stewart is velvet-voiced as the wronged Don Jose, and Roland Wood a solid, if unremarkable Escamillo. Nadine Livingstone is a beautiful sounding Micaela, but her tendency to whimper too much fails to gain the audiences sympathy and the chemistry between her and Stewart’s Don Jose is non-existent. There’s strong support from the other featured roles, in particular, Timothy Dickinson who delivers a memorable Zuniga.

The choruses both child and adult (especially the chain-smoking, primary school aged tykes, blowing smoke with an attitude and insouciance that belies their years) are glorious and produce a rich sound that is a treat for the ears.

This is a strong, solid staging of a much-loved work and a perfect introduction to opera for those wanting to dip their toe in the water.

Carmen tours Scotland throughout October and November details at: Scottish Opera

*Carmen was not performed in its original Fench in Scotland until 1977.