Women in long dresses and men in sleek blazers lined the auditorium seats for the last performance of the Meadows Opera Theatre’s, The Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donicetti, on Sunday.
Award winning director and producer Hank Hammett has been training actors for over three decades in everything from Broadway to the New York Opera House. Hammett is currently the Director of Opera at SMU.
“I have the best students in the world. I mean it,” Hammett said. “They continue to amaze and inspire me.”
The opera was performed Thursday through Sunday and sold an average of 278 tickets each day. It is one of the largest shows held in the Bob Hope Theatre.
This massive production paired the Meadows Symphony Orchestra with a blend of opera and musical theatre to produce a very unique show. What makes this even more impressive is that the dialogue is sung entirely in Italian.
Students not only have to memorize their lines in Italian, they also have to insure their diction is on par with native speakers, a process which takes weeks of constant practice.
Earning her master’s degree in vocal performance, Alyssa Barnes was up for the challenge. Barnes, who plays the wealthy ranch owner Adina, has been in an Italian opera once before.
The story of this opera was centered on Adina and Nemorino’s journey to find love. Along the way the duo is helped by a charismatic doctor and a little Bordeaux.
“It’s somewhere you don’t have to take yourself too seriously,” Barnes said. “You can enjoy yourself.”
This lighthearted and fun attitude was evident throughout the final production. Whether it be a quirky smirk from the young man Nemorino or a grand jester from Sergeant Belcore, the audience laughter resonated as loudly as the violins.
“The level of artistry was really good. I was impressed,” said audience member Derreck Shears after the show Sunday. “It’s all around good from top to bottom.”
The students began rehearsing in the fall and come back to work two weeks before school begins in the spring in order to understand the dialogue and language.
“They are a real team,” said Hammett.
The Elixir of Love is part of Meadows Opera Free for All which is a series of opera events held once a year. The next event is The Singing Violin on March 24.