OPERATIC baritone Andrew Shore stepped in at the 11th hour to rescue a production of Gaetano Donizetti’s classic opera L’Elisir D’Amore, the Love Potion, for the Iford Arts Festival at Belcombe Court.

Mr Shore, 66, took over the part of Doctor Dulcamara after original cast member William Robert Allenby was taken ill and advised by specialists to rest.

The part is a key role and Mr Shore has previously sung the part of Doctor Dulcamara for the Canadian Opera Company.

L'Elisir D'Amore is a new production of Donizetti’s classic opera by Iford Arts with the Chroma chamber orchestra ensemble for this year's festival, taking place in a large geodesic dome in the neo-picturesque gardens of Belcombe Court.

The cast includes the soprano Claire Lees as Adina, Welsh tenor Robert Lewis as Nemorino, baritone Matthew Durkan as Belcore, and the soprano Iuno Connolly as Gianetta.

Conducted by Oliver Gooch, the production is directed by James Hurley, with set designs by Holly Pigott and lighting by Ben Pickersgill.

Mr Hurley sets the production in Southern California’s orange belt in the 1920s, with Adina as the owner/operator of an orange grove employing an army of pickers.

I'm not a true opera buff - just ask my wife, who loves opera - but even my untutored ears could tell the singing was brilliant, with a series of soaring arias, duets and trios delivering a powerful performance.

The voices of the leads complemented each other perfectly and the comic timing, particularly of the two lovers, Adina and Nemorino, was spot on.

L'Elisir D'Amore has two more performances on Friday and Saturday. John Baker