L’elisir d’amore



photos courtesy of Paul Sirochman

L’ELISIR D’AMORE by Gaetano Donizetti
Conductor: Christopher Macatsoris
Cast: Boccia/Silva, Mancasola/Moore, Bowers/Mason/Nelson, Conner/Ngqungwana, Williams
Production: P. Harrison (scenery), V. Starr (clothes), A. Doak (lighting), N. Kidd (hair/make-up)

Production Description: The piece was set during WW2 in Mussolini’s northern Italian stronghold, just before the Allied liberation. It all took place in the town municipal library with Adina as Librarian and Nemorino as the janitor. Belcore was a “black shirt”, quite violent/fascistic. Dr. Dulcamara peddled the latest scientific cures. The resolution depicted the actual liberation and arrest of Belcore, along with the romantic uniting of the lovers.

“When L’Elisir d’amore raised its frivolous head on the Academy of Vocal Arts season, one had to remember that this organization functions to train singers for the real world, which can mean making something out of very little. But such a low opinion of L’Elisir d’amore was defied, possibly smashed, from the first moments of AVA’s Saturday opening. The director was Nic Muni, a seasoned innovator who ran Cincinnati Opera for years, and he gave deeper motivation to the simple plot. In this production, when the stereotypical minx Adina appears to be spurning the bumpkin who loves her, she’s actually saving him from execution by a jealous, well-armed Blackshirt. Such touches count for a lot. The opera went from being casually formulaic to purposely lightweight.”
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Donizetti’s most popular opera, L’Elisir d’Amore, is generally thought of as a light comedy. But the composer labeled it as a melodramma giocoso. It does, after all, concern encounters with soldiers, and its hero must choose between romance and joining the army. Director Nic Muni courts real danger in the current production by setting the opera in 1945, with Sergeant Belcore as a member of Mussolini’s army, which fought alongside the Nazis in northern Italy. When Nemorino accepts Belcore’s money to enlist, he’s actually risking his life, not to mention compromising his morals by agreeing to serve a Fascist dictator. The audience is constantly diverted by interaction among the townspeople and it was delightful to see chorus members jitterbugging to Donizetti’s 19th century melodies. Muni’s diversions are fun.”
Steven Cohen, Broad Street Review

“Academy of Vocal Arts’ production of L’Elisir d’amore is set in 1945 Fascist Italy. Director Nic Muni takes a risk updating Elisir to such a historically pivotal time as the end of WW2, but it works as the Donizetti farce and a grand melodramatic work it is. Both Muni and conductor Christopher Macatsoris go past the contrivances of the plot and themes of love lost, lust, betrayal are all intoxicatingly and freshly uncorked in this Elisir.”
Lewis Whitington, Concerto Net

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