#30  The Elixir of Love; an Italian Opera in English

In the Italian composer Donizetti’s, The Elixir of Love, the “elixir” is in reality just a modest bottle of Bordeaux, yet the tale itself is more like bubbly champagne, and Maui Pops uncorks this comic romantic tale in their exciting spring collaboration with Pocket Opera of San Francisco and  The Olinda Chorale of Makawao.

Most importantly, this one time only semi-staged performance on Sunday March 13th at 3:30 PM at the MACC is a super opportunity to hear and experience opera in our own language.

The mastermind responsible for our witty translation is Donald Pippin of Pippin Pocket Opera, a San Francisco opera company which has been in the business of making great English translations of operas for more than 30 years and bringing this marvelous art form to audiences who would not otherwise be engaged by the experience.

For large metropolitan opera companies there has been a resistance to performing in languages other than the original which, in the case of The Elixir of Love, is Italian. Yet, Hugh Macdonald in the January 2011 Opera News makes a  great argument for using translations and singing in our own language.

We accept the convention of translations in theater, so why not in opera?  An example Macdonald uses are the plays by Anton Chekov.   Unless we are in Russia  we expect to see and hear Chekhov’s plays performed in English.   Imagine trying to follow The Cherry Orchard from supertitles or a translation in the program. 

Macdonald notes that it’s likely we’ll not  understand every word sung in an opera, even in our own language.  Yet, he asserts that the same can be said for attending a play by Shakespeare. We understand from the roots of our awareness.   

At a time when the conventions of opera have appeared archaic to the young  and opera as business has struggled to develop a youthful base of supporters, attempts have been made to amend the exclusion of audiences by the barrier of language by adopting visually naturalistic staging as a way of communicating more clearly the thoughts and feelings of the characters.  This, combined with supertitles, has given opera audiences  more of  a sense of the general intent of the singers than ever before. 

Yet imagine experiencing an opera  in our own language! 

For the performance at the MACC on Sunday March 13th at 3:30 there will be a number of exciting elements for the audience to take in:  A beautiful full orchestra on the stage, the opera leads in costume on the stage apron, the chorus, half on risers and half in costume interacting with the leads and, with good diction, our own language to entertain us!

A bubbly Elixir indeed!

Try this:

This week, if you are rehearsing The Elixir of Love chorus parts or a musical theater piece, an art song,  an aria or a choral work in English,  notice the layers of subtlety which are brought about by your understanding innately the structures and intent of our wonderful language.  

Engage your imaginations and be conversant!

Sing pretty,


For more information about the March 13th Performance of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love you may contact:

Callboard Hawai‘i   http://www.callboardhawaii.com/elixir_bd.htm

Maui Pops  http://www.mauipops.org/concerts.aspx

Pocket Opera  http://www.pocketopera.org/

Musical Voices Maui    http://www.musicalvoicesmaui.org/

The Olinda Chorale   http://the-olinda-chorale.org/


For past published Thoughts on Singing contact:  http://thoughts-on-singing.com/