THE most surprising thing about Opera North’s revival of Donizetti’s happy comedy is that we haven’t seen more of it. After all, it first appeared in 2000 and has been round the world since then: Spain, New Zealand, Texas (projected), even Wales. Leeds last saw it nine years ago.

Daniel Slater has returned to ginger up his production. With the sun blazing from a Mediterranean sky, we are just off a palm-treed beach. The navy’s in port, with Lt Belcore in command of an equally randy platoon of young officers.

Into the noisy gathering on the terrace of the Hotel Adina, ‘Dr’ Dulcamara lands by balloon, peddling his own brand of hot air. Robert Innes Hopkins’s set is topped off by 1950s fashions and a Lambretta or two.

Gabriela Iştoc is a charming Adina, sporting a mauve trouser suit, ultra-secure coloratura and vacillating emotions. Her Nemorino is Jung Soo Yun, who starts shakily but settles down nicely once the elixir takes hold and finishes with a liquid Una furtiva lagrima.

Richard Burkhardt’s persuasive Dulcamara is straight out of music hall: pencil moustache, wavy fringe and striped waistcoat. His duet with Adina (and a long blue scarf) is the titillating highlight. Duncan Rock’s macho Belcore and Fflur Wyn’s sparky Giannetta complete an agile cast. Tobias Ringborg’s orchestra is in spirited form and the chorus a chameleon of cameos and good cheer. Just the tonic for winter blues.

Opera North in L’Elisir d’amore, Leeds Grand Theatre. Box office: 0844 848 2700 or Further performances: tonight, February 25 and 27, then on tour; more details at