Take an Italian opera and set it in the Australian outback in 1915, and the result is a witty and fun rendition of some of Donizetti’s most glorious music at Arts Centre Melbourne from 21 November 2015.
A lovesick lad, an ambitious soldier, a wilful gal with a wicked sense of humour, and of course, a devious peddler selling a reputedly tried-and-true love potion – what could possibly go right?
“If you’re doing a comic opera it’s useful to get it as close to a contemporary world as you legitimately can,” says Director Simon Phillips. “because that affords you the possibility of laughs of recognition as well as situation.”
Phillips, with set designer Michael Scott-Mitchell and costume designer Gabriela Tylesova have had way too much fun with the production, moving the setting from Donizetti’s Basque country village of the late 18th century, to the dust and dry of rural Australia during the First World War.
As Phillips points out, the regiment of soldiers and all the talk of conscription mean that a modern adaptation would have jarred, but setting the story in Australia in 1915 provides a rich vein of comic material to add to the mix.
An essential material in the concept and design is the very trusty corrugated iron, with Scott-Mitchell using it to high effect for one of the absolute highlights of the production, that of Adina making her entrance astride a corrugated horse (Dulcamara arriving in his little yellow corrugated car comes a very close second).
Phenomenal talent Rachelle Durkin shines in the role of Adina. As one of opera’s most striking young artists, she has already performed at major houses worldwide to critical acclaim. The Elixir of Love is a crowd pleaser and a must for both first time opera goers and seasoned opera lovers.
The Elixir of Love
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 21 – 28 November 2015
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
For m ore information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.
Image: The Elixir of Love – courtesy of Opera Australia