UPDATE: A video preview of the new Elisir follows the jump. La Cieca’s spy reports: “Bartlett Sher‘s warm and winning new production of Donizetti’s L‘Elisir d’Amore was presented at today’s annual Opening Night free public dress rehearsal.

The undercover audience member continues:

The most gratifying aspect of the performance was that the characters onstage were presented as three-dimensional, likable people rather than the cartoons that often take the stage in Elisir.

Anna Netrebko, keeping her warm, smoky voice light and free, was a complex and touching Adina, much different from the usual shrill soubrette shrew. Opposite her as Nemorino, Matthew Polenzani gave one of his most accomplished Met performances to date singing with style and nuance and creating a credible, likeable bumpkin that one really rooted for.

Marius Kwiecien can do the swaggering Belcore in his sleep by now but happily his singing featured less bellowing and more agile command than it did this spring opposite Damrau and Florez. Ambrogio Maestri really sang Dulcamara and didn’t camp it up with ancient buffo stage business.

Maurizio Benini‘s quicksilver conducting was a definite improvement over his disaster-prone predecessor last spring. Despite some pretty glaring lighting problems, particularly in act 1 and a snafu involving Dulcamara’s coach which brought the performance to a temporary halt, this new staging is in all ways an improvement over the aging cotton-candy Copley-Montresor eyesore it replaces.