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University of Iowa News Release


April 19, 2011

UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater produces Donizetti's comic masterpiece 'Elixir of Love'

Donizetti's comic opera "The Elixir of Love," will be presented by the University of Iowa Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater, conducted by William LaRue Jones, at 8 p.m. Friday through Saturday, April 29 and 30, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1, in the historic Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.

The production is directed by William Theisen, artistic director of Milwaukee's Skylight Opera Theatre, who has directed more than 100 opera and theater production coast-to-coast, including UI productions of "La Boheme" and "Jacque Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris." He has also lectured for the UI Opera Studies Group.

"Elixir of Love" is such a favorite with audiences that it is one of the most frequently produced operas in America, and it features one of the most famous arias in opera history, "Una furtiva lagrima." Nemorino, a poor country bumpkin, has a crush on Adina, the town tease, but she's about to marry the dashing military man, Sgt. Belcore. Enter Dr. Dulcamara, a charming con-man who claims he can concoct a potion that will make Nemorino irresistible to the object of his desire.

All the elements of the story are timeless in this bel canto classic, and in this production they make a perfect fit for rural Iowa in the early 1900s, when self-proclaimed "doctors" still traveled from small town to small town peddling magic "tonics" sure to cure every ailment or fulfill every need.

Theisen wrote, "Donizetti was 34 when he composed 'The Elixir of Love.' He had already written 36 operas but hadn't yet achieved success with the Italian public or critics. The superiority of 'The Elixir of Love' over Donizetti's earlier comic operas lies in its vivid melodic characterization. Each of the characters has their own style -- Adina's feistiness, Nemorino's tenderness, Belcore's virility and Dulcamara's garrulity.

"The special charm of 'The Elixir of Love' was recognized from the very beginning. After the first production, the critic Francesco Pezzi wrote, 'The style of this score is lively and brilliant. The shading from buffo to serio takes place with surprising gradations and the emotions are handled with musical passion. It reveals a great master at work accompanying a vocal line now lively, now brilliant, now impassioned.'

"With its succession of exhilarating arias, duets and ensembles the joys of 'The Elixir of Love' know no bounds. Every piece of music is an absolute delight and the comedy is delicious because it is a comedy with heart -- made memorable by the bel canto genius of Donizetti."

The School of Music student cast features Jacqueline Lang as Adina; Chaz'men Williams-Ali as Nemorino; Ian Richardson as Belcore; Jason Mallory as Dulcamara; Gretchen Bruesehoff and Gianetta and Alexander Walsh as Dulcamara's assistant.

Artistic contributors to the production include lighting designer Ed McCarthy, vocal coach Shari Rhoads, and scenic and costume designer Margaret Wenk-Kuchblbauer.

Tickets are $20; $15 senior citizen, $10 youth; $5 UI student with valid UI ID. Tickets are available through the Englert Box Office at 319-688-2653 or

The School of Music is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,