Living in New York has its entertainment perks, some of them free entertainment, and one can survey the scene to see what’s around in any given week. For example, last Saturday, July 15 (2017), one could have gone to the New York Public Library branch at 112 East 96th Street and experienced a free afternoon opera concert of L’Elisir d’Amore “ (“The Elixir of Love”) by Gaetano Donizetti, presented by the New York Opera Forum.

The opera was sung by five performers with superb voices. In an 1830 country setting Ilana Goldberg, soprano, performed the key role of Adina, a wealthy owner of a farm, fought over by competing suitors. I had enjoyed her for the first time in a previous concert (see SEARCH then under ABOUT TOWN), but on this occasion it was a more complete opportunity to appreciate her impressive voice and her considerable acting skills.

I had never heard any of the other four performers, each in excellent voice—Jennifer Allenby, soprano, as Giannetta, Adina’s friend; and three fine male singers, Joseph Mayon, tenor, as Nemorino, a peasant in love with Adina; Charles Gray, baritone, as Belcore, a sergeant, and Spencer Leopold-Cohen, baritone as Dulcamara, a travelling medicine man. Richard Nechamkin was Music Director and also pianist.

The opera in concert was in an intimate lower level library space that afforded the opportunity for the kind of close-up experience one doesn’t get at a full production in an opera house. Absent were ticket prices! If you missed the aforementioned concert, there is an opportunity to enjoy excerpts from “Der Rosenkavalier” by Strauss and “Suor Angelica” by Puccini in another free recital by the New York Opera Forum at the 96th Street Library at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 12. No advance registration is required. Posted July 17, 2017.

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