The 2012 season at the Metropolitan Opera opened with Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. Conceived by Broadway darling Bartlett Sher, this production could not ooze any more vitality if it tried. Every element is coherent with the concept this show proposes, one that successfully treads the fine line between the buffo facets and the deepest of human feelings. Both diametrically opposed dimensions are present in a score composed at light-speed – two weeks was all it took to be completed, and ever since its Milan première in 1832 it has conquered audiences the world over.

The stage animal that is Anna Netrebko brings a flirtatious Adina to life, offering solid acting to complement her stupendously powerful voice. If anything, her ever darker colour make her an unusual if not incongruous Adina, but she uses her own potential limitations to her advantage, choosing richness in sounds over florid coloratura. She navigates Adina’s evolution from a fickle woman to an unconditional lover with care and extreme attention to detail. This all becomes even more evident when looking at her through the lens of a close-up camera.

Matthew Polenzani gives every ounce of his being to Nemorino, providing intense complexity to the tormented man and singing with accuracy and beauty. His voice is just perfect for this role, and it shines through every note, winning everyone's empathy – and eventually Adina's heart. He makes the trodden aria “Una furtiva lagrima” sound new and different – and utterly moving.

Ambrogio Maestri’s Dulcamara certainly deserves mentioning too. The eternal charlatan that gets away with his cheap wine gets a star treatment and in so doing wins the audience’s acclaim. Maestri is clearly at ease with this character, both vocally and dramatically, unapologetically dazzling in his contagiously fun pattering interventions.

Finally, Mariusz Kwiecien delivers a robust and self-important Belcore, who courts Adina only to lose her to Nemorino eventually. Not that he kills himself over it, as he merely moves onto the next woman available.

Maurizio Benini carries the opera through with energy and skill, and acts as a facilitator for the terrific cast to shine and hitting the perfect timing for each moment. He identifies, and squeezes out, every bit of humour in the score, as well as every bit of tragedy.

Both the orchestra and the choir are superb, standing out in their own right and, at the same time, loyally supporting the main characters. An effective classic staging courtesy of Michael Yeargan, as well as beautiful costumes conceived by Catherine Zuber in turn, back them all and round up a real treat.

Overall, this is the perfect show to watch for an energy boost, or quite simply, if you want to enjoy two hours of first-class opera.