The whole opera is very nice and the set is very nicely packaged with beautiful artwork inside a clamshell box and a booklet with a discussion of how the opera came about and full libretto including English translation.
Why in the world Opera Rara wasted resources on this production is the main question it arouses. There are far more interesting and exciting works awaiting good studio productions from the bel canto era, especially from the large group of highly talented composers who have been eclipsed by the big three. Their best works, judging by the few recorded examples we have (largely thanks to summer festivals and Bongiovanni) is a lot better than Donizetti's worst. While Elvida may not quite fit into the latter category, it must be close to it.
Elvida is a one-act opera composed for a Gala occasion when it was to be expected that the audience would not be listening closely. The writing is by and large rather pedestrian and Donizetti himself indicated that he really didn't think much of it. However, since singers of a quality that Donizetti at that stage in his career might not be able to command were engaged for the occasion, some of the writing is technically demanding and should produce bel canto fireworks even if somewhat empty ones. Of the cast assembled here, the best by a long shot is Jennifer Larmore, who produces some beautiful singing and probably makes the material sound better than it is. Bruce Ford is, as expected, reliable without brilliance. The bass, Pietro Spagnoli, is a bit weak. Unfortunately, the soprano, Annick Massis, singing the title and central role, is simply not up to the task, producing some most unpleasant sounds. This despite the conducting being rather leaden, both in tempi and dynamics. This conducting means that some of the items become boring, more so than the basic material would warrant. This is especially so for the trio and the first part of the quartet that are supposed to be the gems of the opera. (The lack of dynamic subtlety pretty well dooms the second part of the quartet.) The orchestra and the chorus are very good so the shortcomings must be laid to the conductor, for it does not sound as if it can be blamed simply on lack of rehersal time. This is far below what we have come to expect from Opera Rara.