The Elixir of Love, Winterbourne Opera at Salisbury Cattle Market

055 Elixir of LoveWHEN I was a child, my cousins and friends went to holiday camps in the summer and it always sounded like fun.

But I had no idea quite WHAT fun it could be until I signed up for a session at Adina’s Holiday Camp, set up for a week at Salisbury Cattle Market.

Winterbourne Opera’s second production in the unusual setting, again directed by Ben Occhipinti and designed by Tom Paris, took Donizetti’s famous comic opera from its original venue of Milan in 1831 into the era of sixties pop, complete with bubblegum colours and sticky-out petticoats.

Adina runs a holiday camp, and general hand Nemorino is passionately, hopelessly in love with her. Dulcamara, the camp’s doctor, conjurer and glittery-suited MC, offers a magic love potion, and Nemorino spends his last money on buying a bottle.

But his beloved, who cruelly mocks his passion, is persuaded to marry the arrogant Belcore before the potion has time to take effect.

By the time the staff and holidaymakers realise what’s happening, Nemorino has inherited vast wealth from his uncle, and he’s the only one not in on the secret.

Of course it all comes out right in the end.190 Elixir of Love

This wonderfully witty production of The Elixir of Love brings fine young singers at the start of their professional careers together with the chorus of the Wiltshire-based opera company. It’s very clear that there are no egos and pro-am huffiness here. It’s all about enjoying the experience, and when it is done as well as Winterbourne Opera, that means that the audience enjoys it just as much.

Ben Occhipinti not only fell for the performance space, but decided to use as much of it as possible, meaning that the action is again taken into the audience.

The singers are a world away from the “park and bark” tradition, moving like dancers and making the most of the characterisations.

149 Elixir of LoveOutstanding were Alistair Sutherland’s hilariously shifty Dulcamara, Ronan Busfield’s anguished Nemorino and Francesca Aquilina’s pert and provocative Adina.

Theirs are the major roles, and the rest of the company provided the authentic backdrop to the action, with not only the fine singing you might expect, but acting and movement of which professionals would be proud.

Another triumph, and SUCH fun!


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