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L'elisir d'amore, the foolishness of love

Palacio de Bellas Artes
02/22/2004 -  February 15, 19
Gaetano Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore
Ramón Vargas (Nemorino), Olivia Gorra (Adina), Oscar Sámano (Belcore), Rosendo Flores (Dulcamara), Verónica Murúa (Giannetta), César Piña (stage manager), Guido María Guida (conductor), Coro y Orquesta del Teatro de Bellas Artes.

The presentation of L’elisir d’amore (The elixir of love) in Bellas Artes, the last month, was a special event for both, the cast and the spectators. First, it was the beginning of the 2004 opera season. Second, it represented the return of the international tenor Ramón Vargas to his native city and original performing house. Almost each year, Mr. Vargas gives concertos and opera galas in some of the main Mexican theaters, and particularly in Bellas Artes. Nonetheless, it was in 1998 the last time when he sang a complete opera in Mexico (Un ballo in maschera). L’eslisir is a significant work for Mr. Vargas. At the beginning of his career, the interpretation of Una furtiva lacrima, from the second part of the work, gave him important awards, both national and international. Then L’elisir brought him special recognition from the opera world, when he performed Nemorino for the first time in 1995, at Bellas Artes. Now, almost ten years later, it is considered one of his specialties.

L’elisir d’amore, is not only significant for Mr. Vargas. It was the first opera that Mrs. Olivia Gorra (Adina) performed at the age of 18 in Mazatlán, México, and represented the beginning of her truly meritorious career. Mr. Rosendo Flores (Dulcamara) also debuted with it in 1963 at Bellas Artes.

Gaetano Donizetti (Bergamo, 1797-1848) composed L’elisir between two other works Ugo, conte de Parigi (March 13, 1832) and Sancia di Castiglia(November 4, 1832). It was based on a script by Felice Romani (1788-1865) and premiered in May 5, 1832, in Milan at the Teatro Canobbiana. The premier cast was: Sabine Heinefetter (Adina), Gianbattista Genero (Nemorino), Herny-Bernard Dabadie (Belcore) and Guiseppe Frezzolini (Dulcamara). Conceived as a melodrama giocoso in due atti, L’elisir is certainly an important task for any tenor. It is extremely dangerous and tricky because of the coloratura and the equilibrium that should be achieved between clarity of voice (necessary in each phrase) and the ludicrous style of the whole opera. A perfect coordination between the tenor and the stage director is also necessary, because the first never gets away from scene.

Mr. Vargas performance of Nemorino was really great. He sang both the cantinelas and largetos with soft easy elegance. His dominance on the stage was total, showing that his career is in one of its best moments. The rest of the cast was also good, especially Mrs. Gorra, who demonstrated the high value of her experience in Italian works, singing with a clear and powerful voice. The understanding of Nemorino’s character by Mr. Vargas (a professional psychologist) is remarkable. In an interview for a Mexican newspaper (Reforma, February 14, 2004), he explained how the tenor Guiseppe Di Stefano, working with him for a presentation at the Met, showed him that the peasant Nemorino is not a fool, but a man in love (l’amour et la folie). Then he acted as a man in love, love that brings foolishness!

The love ecstasy of Nemorino, under the moon of Mexico City, made appear a furtiva lacrima on his eyes. In the audience, couples hands got together; then, a sort of soft general sigh reminded us that music is like a wizard who gives back love when we pay him with our soul.


After the Furtiva lacrima, the impulsive clapping and bravos were so strong that Mr. Vargas had to repeat it. Between the couples of the audience, were the President of Mexico Mr. Vicente Fox and his wife.

Before his presentation in Mexico, Ramón Vargas sang at the Vienna’s Staatsoper (Donizetti, La Favorite). This month he will be at the Met (Verdi, Rigoletto).

Salvador de la Torre



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