This was my first bel canto opera experience. I suddenly realize that I have been criminally deprived.
Giuseppe Filianoti was loud and hammy, which seemed appropriate for Nemorino. Nino Machaidze, Nathan Gunn and Ruggero Raimondi all combined fluent singing with animated comic acting.
The director Stephen Lawless propelled the drama along with care and restraint; everybody on stage had something relevant to do and nobody stood around looking anxious.
Doctor Dulcamara’s midget assistant was the evening’s big shock. I suppose somebody will complain, but he was hilarious and I’m proud of L.A. Opera for daring it. (Though I started to get nervous when the priest appeared on stage who was more than a bit on the leprechaun side, too. Enough’s enough.)
Johan Engels’s costumes and continually-modified single set gave an appealing Italian Impressionist-Macchiaioli-Bertolucci-Out-in-the-fields effect. Which suited this deeply entertaining, deeply theatrical pastoral.