Romance, Beloved Melodies Soar in Spring Opera ‘Elixir of Love’
Director Joshua Lindsay hopes that the show will be accessible to a new generation of operagoers
The School of Music will bring life, laughs and romance to the BYU stage when Gaetano Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love” — or “L’elisir d’amore” — opens on June 12.
The comic opera — which will be sung in the original Italian with English supertitles — follows gullible peasant Nemorino as he pines over the beautiful Adina, a wealthy landowner who refuses to commit to one man. When a rival suitor emerges, Nemorino gives his life savings to a traveling snake oil salesman in exchange for a purported love potion.
The show’s wit and lovable characters have charmed audiences for nearly 200 years. Director Joshua Lindsay counts himself among the opera’s fans.
“‘Elixir of Love’ was actually the first opera I ever watched on TV,” said Lindsay. “I was 15 and had started taking voice lessons, and I saw it on PBS with Pavarotti and Kathleen Battle. I was wowed by the humor and the great, great singing. I fell in love with opera after that.”
Lindsay hopes to do the popular show justice on the BYU stage, emphasizing the need for the cast to access and naturally convey a variety of emotions in their performance. The principal singers — who were cast in December — came to the first rehearsal with their parts memorized, allowing Lindsay and the show’s dramaturg to work with them to deepen and refine their acting.
“It’s the hardest thing to be normal on stage, to just be convincing and genuine,” said Riley Pierce, who is double cast as lead tenor Nemorino with Sam Utley. “We work so hard to show the story when really all we have to do is be ourselves; a big part of discovering the character for me was realizing that I could bring in much more of myself.”
“I hope people enjoy the story,” he continued. “But I also hope that they come with us on these emotional journeys, that they laugh when it’s funny and are touched when it’s more solemn or romantic.”
While the classic comedic love triangle is one of the biggest draws of Donizetti’s work, neither Pierce nor Lindsay can overlook the music itself.
“This show is considered bel canto opera, which means ‘beautiful singing’ in Italian,” said Pierce. “It actually has one of the most famous tenor arias, ‘Una furtiva lagrima.’ It’s been incredible to not only be able to work on that song myself, but to learn the rest of this absolutely beautiful music. Singing this is a marathon for your voice — with very high, very fast and very long notes — but it’s been a wonderful experience.”
Lindsay hopes that audiences resonate with both the music and the story of the show, whether they are first-time operagoers or veterans of the genre.
“Come to the opera,” he said. “You will be entertained and enjoy beautiful, lively music. You may even recognize some of the tunes. I hope you will leave with an appreciation — and maybe a newfound love — of opera.”
Tickets and Show Details
Performance Dates and Times: June 12-15 | 7:30 p.m.
Location: de Jong Concert Hall
Tickets: Available in person at the BYU HFAC or Marriott Center Ticket Office, by phone at (801) 422-2981 or online at byuarts.com