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Kennet Opera - The Elixir of Love

24th to 26th June 2010.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Just what the doctor ordered

Kennet Opera: The Elixir of Love, at the Corn Exchange, from Thursday, June 24 to Saturday; June 26

They were in good voice, they embraced the occasion, they made their enjoyment clear - and that was just the audience. Those who turned up to Kennet Opera's The Elixir of Love last week despite the World Cup, opera at the racecourse and the heat, had themselves a good time.

Elixir, set here in 1930s rural Italy, tells how the 'magic potion' peddled by the iterant quack 'Doctor' Dulcamara changes the course of true love between the simple soul Nemorino and the lovely Adina, certainly more clued up but, it emerges, less in control of things than she thinks.

As Adina, Olivia Hinman was a revelation to those who have only seen her in 'pretty-girl' roles with Kennet. She sailed into this more rounded character and her vocal presence in the several boisterous crowd scenes is an abiding memory. Gordon Fry's Nemorino fitted the part just as well, by turns abject, comical and lyrical but always, one felt, fundamentally decent.

In the two fine vignette roles, Alan Fryer brought out the pomposity, and just a hint of depth, in the losing suitor Sergeant Belcore, while, got up to kill as Dulcamara, Duncan Powell had great fun as the huckster's huckster, just avoiding stepping out of his depth.

Jenny Carkeet convinced and entertained as Adina's flirty girlfriend Giannetta, looking as though she had just stepped off the cover of a precursor of Hello! magazine.

Under Justine Fry's artistic direction the Corn Exchange stage was a vibrant space: how good to see so many smiles, touches, embraces and impromptu dances adding to the flow of Donizetti's comic masterpiece.

Kennet Opera last presented Elixir only seven years ago, at that time with a two-piano backing. This time around the company's new music director Rebecca Berkley had assembled a 13-piece orchestra, who produced just the right texture and volume. Add the 20-strong chorus, equally well schooled, and you see why the company's productions are substantial pieces of work.