What: Loveland Opera Theater’s production of “Elixir of Love,” directed by Juliana Bishop Hoch and Brian Clay Luedloff
When: Friday, Mar. 6 and Saturday, Mar. 7 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Mar. 8 at 2:30 p.m.; informal talks before performances at 6:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Where: The Rialto Theater, 228 E. 4th St., Loveland.
Two alternating casts perform
Opera is not for everyone, and I’m not going to pretend it is, but for those who are curious, or perhaps even apprehensive for the wrong reasons, I’ll make the case that the Loveland Opera Theater is a perfect chance to try it for all the right reasons. This weekend is the right time, the Rialto Theater is the right place, and the LOT’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love” is the prize.
Myth 1: Opera is Hard to Understand
“Elixir of Love” is sung in English with helpful follow-along supertitles. The storyline is simple enough to put you at ease and complex enough to engage. And everything from the acting, the singing, along with the staging and choreography, is charming and well executed by the company.
The story is set in rural Italy in the mid-1800s. The wealthy village beauty Adina (Kristin Jensen/Maria Lindsey) is hounded by love-struck peasant Nemorino (Pablo Romero/Michael Kilcoyne), and is also courted by the dashing soldier, Sgt. Belcore (Randy White/Jungwoo Kim). Traveling medicine show huckster Dr. Dulcamara (Joe Massman/Robert Hoch) dupes the desperate Nemorino out of his last coin for a magic love potion. The potion’s only real power is giving Nemorino the courage to speak his heart to Adina and press her to reveal her true feelings about him. And because it’s a comic opera, you know it ends well, for most of the characters anyway.
One of the finest moments of Saturday night’s performance was the recitative by Pablo Romero as Nemorino — “Only one tear glistened there.” The entire story is summed up by his hope-beyond-hope that one tear on the face of Adina means, despite what she says, that she loves him, too. Simple and moving.
Adding yet another facet to making this production more accessible, LOT co-founder Robert Hoch gives informal talks before each performance, a primer on how opera has changed with the times to stay relevant and exciting for new audiences. He gives a delightful introduction to a sometimes misunderstood genre and takes questions from the audience.
Myth 2: Community Opera is Sub-Par
I beg to differ. There was nothing amateurish about any part of the production. The singers, many who are local (bass-baritone Joe Massman for one), performed with heart and polish. They will no doubt move onto bigger things, which is one of the goals of the LOT, but never let it be said their performances in “Elixir” were lacking. Their voices were strong and rich. The intimate setting of the Rialto with its great acoustics allowed the singers to reach the audience, even those in the balcony, in a natural but powerful way. Opera isn’t necessarily best with the largest voices in the largest venues.
Myth 3: Opera is Too Expensive
Tickets to area opera productions can run from $65 to $120. Tickets for this show are $25 regular admission, $18 student/senior. What about refreshments you ask? The Rialto concessions are “reality-based” and are easy on the wallet. I appreciate a dollar box of candy served by kindly folks who treat you with respect.
There is true value in the experience of an opera performed with a live orchestra in a beautiful theater. Take a chance; catch this rare opportunity for a great local evening out.
<p><span style=”font-size: small;”><span style=”font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif;”>”Elixir of Love” cast members from left, Kristin Jensen (Adina), Michael Kilcoyne (Nemorino), Robert Hoch (Dr. Dulcamara), Rachel Smith (Gianetta), and Randy White (Sgt. Belcore). The singers were double cast.</span></span></p>