PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show!

by Andy Fawthrop

We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame in saying it again, but we are incredibly lucky to have so many talented musical and dramatic companies on our doorstep.  White Horse Opera (WHO) is but one of these, a company packed with plenty of both talent and enthusiasm.  They’d previewed this week’s offering with a few early excerpts at their Spring Concert way back in March in Devizes Town Hall, which I also attended, but tonight’s dress rehearsal was a chance to see how the full operetta had panned out.

And I have to say that it is a total and delightful success!  Regular readers will know that I’m no expert on opera, but it’s one of the musical forms that I do happen to love.  This particular 19th-century two-act comic opera production is a very accessible and easy-to-love piece, with some absolutely gorgeous music. 

The plot, as is fairly usual in any comic opera, is somewhat ludicrous and unbelievable.  Briefly – Nemorino, a poor peasant, is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Adina, a rich landowner.  Aware of his adoration, she torments him with her indifference and allows herself to be courted by the recently-arrived Captain Belcore.  Nemorino resorts to buying what he thinks is a love potion (in this case a cheap bottle of Bordeaux) from the shameless Dr. Dulcamara, but will it work to enable him to win her love?  That’s the set-up in the first act.

Will everything be resolved in the second act?…..well, you’ll have to come and see the production to find out!  Suffice to say that there are lots of twists and turns, deceptions, misunderstandings, a secret inheritance and plenty of improbabilities before everything is finally sorted out.

The opera, which essentially is about the triumph of sincerity over trickery and duplicity marks Matt Dauncey’s directorial debut, and he’s made a fine job of it.  He’s introduced some nice visual comedy into the production, but without obscuring the essential comedy of Donizetti’s plot.  It also features three big duets between the exciting lead tenor (Robert Felstead making his debut opera performance with WHO) and lead soprano (beautifully sung by the ever-reliable Lisa House).  There are other star turns too from Jon Paget as the dashing Captain Belcore and Stephen Grimshaw as the duplicitous Doctor Dulcamara.

For regular opera lovers, this show is an absolute must, and for those wondering about whether to dip their toes into the shallow waters of opera, this would be a cracking one to start with.  It’s very accessible – it’s sung in English and there are programme notes to guide you through the plot – but, more importantly it’s really well done.  To say that WHO is an amateur opera company is to somewhat undersell itself – what they deliver is an extremely polished and professional performance.  The opera itself is a delight, featuring lots of great songs and choruses, and it delivers a great night’s entertainment.

In summary the main reason you should go and see it is that it’s bloody good!

Tickets are still available for performances tonight (Wednesday), and for Friday and Saturday.

Future WHO events:

Sat 12th Nov 2022              Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore    7.30pm Hilperton Village Hall

Fri 25th Nov 2022               Top Of The Ops                                 7.30pm Holt United Reformed Church

Wed 14th Dec                     Christmas Concert                           7.30pm St. Johns Church, Devizes

More information on WHO is available at


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