This charming two act comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti is currently running at The Mandela, Joburg Theatre on 2, 4, 6 and 7 August 2016.
It is a charming production directed by Marcus Desando, with a fabulous set and clever lighting by Wilhelm Disbergen. The set is interesting in that it is a 20th century or even contemporary village square. It places emphasis on the timelessness of this story. There is no doubt in my mind that people still buy love potions in the hope that they will work and these are often advertised by flyers near busy train stations and taxi ranks. Costumes by Christiaan Harris are period costumes which contrast sharply with the set.
The singing was pretty, if not always powerful. I assume, because it is not stated anywhere, that it is a contact orchestra under the baton of Arjan Tien. I hate the decision of Gauteng Opera to go paperless. The use of mobile phones during the performance is very disturbing to people behind the light of the phone.
The role of Adina was beautifully performed by Bronwen Forbay, with her suitor Thabiso Masemene (opening night). He has a lovely voice, but it is not very powerful. The role of Belcore was sung by Luthando Oave. On opening night the role of Dulcamara was sung by Thato Machona. Caroline Nkwe sang the role of Giannetta.
One test of whether a performance is good or not is whether I enjoyed it or not. I had a marvellous time. I have not seen this opera performed live and it was a treat. I left the theatre smiling, and I am smiling now as I recall this. Well done to Gauteng Opera and thanks to their sponsors.