Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Opera Theatre presents Gaetano Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore” (“The Elixir of Love”) at the university’s Fine Arts Theatre on Feb. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., with a special matinee performance on Feb. 16 at 3 p.m.
“Once we chose Valentine’s Day as the opening night of our opera, I knew we had to do something special,” said UGA Opera Theatre Director Frederick Burchinal, the Wyatt and Margaret Anderson Professor in the Arts in the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music. “I wanted to offer “L’elisir” to the community as the perfect romantic outing. We try to alternate our production schedule between dramas and comedies, and this certainly falls into the latter category.”
The production will feature the UGA Opera Theatre and Opera Orchestra led by special guest conductor Maestro Imre Palló. Palló, who is the godson of composer Zoltán Kodály, was conductor of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf prior to his American debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in 1973. The following year he was invited to join the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center as one of the principal conductors, a position he served for more than two decades.
“I first met Maestro Palló in 1977 via the Cincinnati Opera,” Burchinal said. “After that, we became fast friends and continued to work together worldwide. It’s a pleasure and an honor to have him joining our production.”
Premiered in Milan in 1832, “L’elisir d’amore” explores the effects of a “magic” potion upon the love triangle of the endearing rube Nemorino, rakish sergeant Belcore and wealthy beauty Adina. The production features UGA students Joseph Michael Brent as Nemorino, Evan Tyor as Belcore, Elisabeth Slaten as Adina, Avery Draut as her friend Giannette, and Christopher Voss as Dr. Dulcamara, purveyor of the eponymous potion.
For this particular production, Burchinal enlisted the assistance of guest stage director Jennifer Bakst, who has presented numerous theatre and opera productions in Germany and the U.K., including the historical Globe Theatre.
“Jennifer had the notion of setting the production on a Georgia peach farm in the late 1930s,” Burchinal said. “Setting it in a unique environment provides social commentary on the characters’ relationships, which is at the root of drama in any successful opera. For instance, this particular production recasts Adina as the landowner, who has steered the farm through the Great Depression; Nemorino as an easy-going, starry-eyed farm worker; Belcore as a U.S. Army recruiting officer; and Dulcamara as a washed-up bootlegger. It’s a brilliant take on an already beautiful and humorous story.”
Tickets for the program are $18/$5 for students and available via the UGA Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400 or online at www.uga.edu/pac.