NORMAN — Opera has given the world countless moments of transporting bliss across the centuries, and the University of Oklahoma’s upcoming production of Gaetano Donizetti’s sentimental comedy “L’Elisir d’ Amore” is no exception.
Scheduled for Oct. 17-20 at the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, OU’s version of this 180-year-old stalwart will not be a radical re-thinking of the opera.
“We’re stressing the Italianate beauty of the music,” said Jonathan Shames, artistic director and opera conductor. “It’s a pastoral comedy with people stamping grapes, making wine and enjoying life on the stage.”
It’s a celebration of hard work, the mysteries of love and the pleasures of human existence. Shames believes the 21st century could benefit from the ethos.
The story is of peasant Nemorino, who is head over heels in love with the beautiful and affluent Adina. She takes his fervent affection for granted and a love triangle occurs when swashbuckling Sgt. Belcore enters the scene. Nemorino gets the idea that a love potion will make Adina fall for him and one is conveniently provided by itinerant snake oil peddler Dulcamara.
The heart of the opera is three spectacular duets between tenor and soprano. After several byzantine twists and turns of the plot, Nemorino inherits an unexpected fortune. Adina recognizes his true love for her and they embrace. Belcore’s feelings aren’t hurt because as a soldier of fortune he knows the world is full of women. The happy results make Dulcamara appear to be a genius and the conclusion is that all’s right with the world.
OU student Patrick Russell of Brownsville, Texas, will play the part of cocksure Belcore.
“The music isn’t extraordinarily difficult, though it does provide some challenges in the way of coloratura and tessitura,” Russell said. “It has also been difficult attempting to inhabit a somewhat cartoonish character, someone who is completely different than me.”