BWW Reviews: ALO Introduced Austin to Up-And-Coming Opera Stars with ELIXIR OF LOVE

BWW Reviews: ALO Introduced Austin to Up-And-Coming Opera Stars with ELIXIR OF LOVE
Sara Gartland as Adina and Rene Barbera as Nemorino.
Photo by Mark Matson

Poor, plain, easily ignored Nemorino. He's so in love with the beautiful Adina, but she doesn't love him back. Ultimately, lovesick Nemorino is forced to buy a love potion from a charlatan to win Adina's heart. While that may be the plot of Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera, it doesn't take a potion to fall for Austin Lyric Opera's superb production of The Elixir of Love. Every element of this superbly crafted production will win the love and adoration of the audience. Opera lovers will be entranced, and opera newcomers will be enchanted. If you are an opera novice or are under the impression that you hate opera, give this one a chance. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to follow this simple, charming, humorous show, and you'll be glad to know that given its 2 hour and 30 minute running time, it's a relatively brief affair.

As should be expected from any show by Austin Lyric Opera, the production values here are top notch. The set by Constantinos Kritikos evokes a romantic Italian village, as do Susan Memmott Allred's detailed and meticulously designed costumes. Director Joseph Evans uses plenty of physical shtick to highlight the humor of the piece, and as always, the orchestra (conducted by Richard Buckley, has a powerful, lush, and recording-quality sound.

But the biggest asset of the production is the cast. Sara Ann Mitchell is delightful as Gianetta, the town's gold-digging gossip. She gives the character a playful, mischievous flare, and her voice is fantastic. As Dr. Dulcamara, the traveling swindler, Peter Strummer is a crowd-pleaser. It's tough to decide if his greatest strengths lie in his singing or his acting. His bass voice fills Dell Hall, and he's more than capable at articulating some dizzyingly fast lyrics. As an actor, his take on the role of the conman is devilishly fun.

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Jeff Davis Jeff Davis is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where he obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Theater with an emphasis in Directing.