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Theater review: Utah Opera’s “The Elixir of Love”

by on March 12, 2012

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not exactly an authority on opera, but I like to check in and see what the Utah Opera is up to once or twice a season. I certainly picked the right show for my first trip of the 2011-12 slate with the current production of Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love.

Nemorino and Adina from "The Elixir of Love"

Elixir is a fast-moving romantic-comedy, and while anything “rom-com” is often met by shrieks of disgust and flight from the room by many men, this is the kind of show that should appeal to many not necessarily predisposed to love opera.

The story is a classic, sung in Italian but set in early 20th century Middle America. That bit of playful time-shifting does add to some creative sets and costumes, but doesn’t really add anything to the plot, which revolves around a working-class ice cream man, Nemorino (tenor Aaron Blake), trying to win the heart of the gorgeous Adina (soprano Anya Matanovic) via downing a questionable love potion purchased from traveling huckster Dr. Dulcamara (Rod Nelman). The elixir is supposed to turn the target of one’s affections into easy prey.

The elixir in question is merely wine, but through a funny series of misunderstandings and shifting circumstances that would make an episode of Three’s Company proud, our lovers ultimately find each other. The music delivered by the Utah Symphony is stirring and fittingly playful, and the show seems to fly by–something that can’t be said for every opera, to be sure. Two acts of roughly an hour each, and we get the full, fun story of Nemorino and Adina.

As per usual with Utah Opera productions, the staging and music were ideal compliments to the story, and in The Elixir of Love, the light story suited a cold March night just fine.

Utah Opera’s The Elixir of Love continues its run through Sunday, March 18. Visit ArtTix for showtimes and tickets.

From → Theater reviews

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