Bel Cantanti's Intoxicating 'L'Elisir d'Amore'

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bel Cantanti delivered an ebullient performance of L'Elisir d'Amore" at the Randolph Road Theatre in Silver Spring on Sunday. Reduced to its essence -- no chorus, and with piano, str ing quartet and onstage trumpeter instead of full orchestra -- the opera didn't seem 175 years old. The comedy burbled and bubbled brightly in a burst of strongly crafted characters. And Artistic Director Katerina Souvorova's pianistic prowess moved it along beautifully.

Meghan McCall was just about letter-perfect -- and note-perfect -- as the flirtatious, don't-pin-me-down Adina, her exceptionally pure tone melding with a gift for physical comedy. Aurelio Dominguez sang plaintively as Nemorino, the rather dim young man who woos her -- unsuccessfully, until he gets help from a phony love potion in a huge plastic bottle that sails past the audience on a zip line. As the phony potion maker Dulcamara, Andrew Adelsberger made a marvelous mountebank, praising his own skill at breakneck speed in Act 1 before realizing in Act 2 that his machinations have met their match in Adina's.

The supporting characters held their own. Matt Osifchin was full-voiced and appropriately full of himself as Belcore. And Jessica Renfro was simply marvelous as Gianetta, with a bright, clear voice and deliciously playful comic timing.

Repeat performances are scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3. No elixir is required to love the production.

-- Mark J. Estren

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