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Froth and love in a wonderful, light romance

<strong>Opera<br /></strong>L&rsquo;ELISIR D&rsquo;AMORE<br /><strong>Royal Opera House<br /></strong>A PERFECT springtime opera, L&rsquo;Elisir D&rsquo;Amore is pure Italian frivolity. Played out to the tune of Donizetti&rsquo;s jaunty but sporadically beautiful score, the opera &ndash; revived here at Covent Garden for the first time, with Laurent Pelly&rsquo;s spritely production setting the action set in contemporary rural Italy&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;revolves around a dopey village boy called Nemorino (Giuseppe Filianoti), who drinks a so-called love potion in the hope that it will make Adina, a spirited village girl in the thrall of a rich general, love him. But the cynical potion-salesman has simply given Nemorino French wine. Even so, through the kind of fanciful coincidences such operas are full of, and a shifting power play, the end the result is a happy couple. But of course.<br /><br />Sounds too frothy? It isn&rsquo;t. Once again the Royal Opera House has used its high budget heft to great effect and the production hits numerous right notes. It&rsquo;s lively and engaging, with a superbly inventive set that involves haystacks, Vespas and lorries.<br /><br />The story, too, is not as shallow as it first appears. Adina&rsquo;s character has some wonderful lines in which she exerts her man-eating prerogative and warns the insipid Nemorino that she never loves men for more than a day. She pushes him around, scowls at him and is the ultimate embodiment of female spirit and strength, an effect only enhanced by her curly blonde locks and pretty face. And the fact that the potion is simply a hoax is a powerful reminder of the power of placebo in matters of love &ndash; Nemorino&rsquo;s false confidence from the wine leads to behaviour Adina begins to find piquant, and love soon follows.<br /><br />Diana Damrau as Adina steals the show &ndash; she is a superbly energetic soprano and a good actor too. Giuseppe Filianoti is also a first class, agile singer but his acting and deportment are a little less convincing than Damrau&rsquo;s.<br /><br />Altogether though, this is a sunny, seasonal delight.<strong><br /></strong>