Monday, April 27, 2009

Opera for the Rest of Us

This post is thanks to the multi-talented, super-friendly, overall arts genius Holly Wall, blogger at Tulsa Art Blog and arts writer at Urban Tulsa Weekly. Take it away, Holly!

Every time I attend a Tulsa Opera production, I forget for a little while that I’m in Tulsa. TO presents magnanimous works, attracting the best singers, directors and conductors that the industry has to offer. And as I watch (and hear) these amazing voices, performing in front of such elaborate sets and in such exquisite costumes, I imagine that I’m in someplace much larger and more cosmopolitan than the 49th largest city in the U.S.

For those who are opera fans, Tulsa Opera never disappoints, and its final production of the 2008-2009 season is no exception. For those who’ve never attended an opera before, this weekend is a perfect time to start, as Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore is a wonderful first-time opera.

In it, Nemorino (Gregory Schmidt) is a shy, naive peasant living in the Italian countryside. He's in love with Adina (Mari Moriya), a stubborn landowner who toys with his emotions and mocks his affection. 

Desperate to win her heart, Nemorino purchases an elixir of love from a traveling doctor (read: quack) named Dulcamara (Terry Hodges). The elixir is nothing but wine, but it fills Nemorino with a confidence he's never known. He's able to act aloof and unconcerned around Adina, sure that she will fall in love with him soon. 

Adina, insulted that Nemorino has taken his attention from her, agrees to marry the sargeant of a military regimen that's made a stop in their town. Belcore (Christopher Feigum) is a conceited, philandering fool, but Adina agrees to the wedding only to get a reaction out of Nemorino. 

It works. 

Nemorino, deperate for money and more elixir, joins Belcore's army for a stipend, which he quickly spends on a bottle of elixir the size of his torso. 

Meanwhile, the ladies of the village get word that Nemorino's rich uncle has died and left him a millionaire. The ladies flock after Nemorino, leaving him and Dulcamara to believe that the love potion has worked. 

In the end, Adina buys back Nemorino's contract with the military, saving him from war, and declares her love for him. The two marry, and everything ends happily ever after - which is so unlike an opera. 

But, that's why it's a fantastic show for those ambivelent about opera. L'Elisir d'Amore is a comedy, written in the bel canto ("beautiful singing") style, and it is sweet, sincere and amusing. 

The music and the singing are absolutely beautiful, and the singers can not only belt out a tune, but they're also wonderful actors. The show is rife with nuanced comedy, with every expression and gesture perfectly timed for a genuine laugh. At the same time, the show is sincere and poignant. 

It's also fast-paced and, for an opera, really short. The two hours you spend in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center fly by. 

L'Elisir d'Amore is a feel-good opera. It could serve as a light-hearted centerpiece for any date night. 

Sounds like a good time, right? If you said yes, then you're in luck. TO will present two more showings L'Elisir D'Amore; one is this Friday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m., and the other is Sunday, May 3, at 2:30 p.m.

Tulsa Opera is not only a world-class company, renowned from coast to coast, but it's also generous. TO gave me two tickets to Friday evening's performance to give away to one lucky Tasha Does Tulsa reader. 

Here's how you enter:
1. Record yourself singing the highest note you possibly can, for as long as you possibly can. 
2. Send me the recording, along with a photo of you striking a pose in a Viking helmet, to tashadoestulsa at gmail  dot com. 

Good luck, and happy vocalizing! Best vibrato wins. 

I kid. Here are the real instructions: 
1. In the comments, tell me who you would take to the show and why. 
2. Tell a friend to enter, too. 
3. For good luck, practice your favorite opera in the shower. The acoustics will surprise you, as well as any household pets or human co-habitants.
4. Tell someone they smell nice. Just because.

The winner will be decided by the trusty site at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Happy commenting!


Michelle said...

I would like to go the opera:
1) I've never been
2) It'd be another reason to brag on T-Town
3) I'd take a friend of mine who's ALSO single. We need a night out on the town!

Courtney said...

I want to go because I am surrounded by a 3 year old and 17 month old all day every day. I would like to attend an adult event for once and be around other adults who talk like adults. I have never been to the Opera. I didn't even realize Tulsa had opera performances. I was only familiar with their plays and musicals. I would even love to blog about the experience. I am actually planning my own mommy vacation that weekend and it would be a perfect event to include in my plans.

As for who I would take, that's a tough one. I think I would take my own mother as thanks for watching my kids and allowing me to have the mommy vacation in the first place.

As much as I don't want to tell my friends about this because it could ruin my chances for winning, I will do it anyway. :)

oklahomaShan said...

I actually considered recording myself for you. :)

I have never been to an opera. The one and only bit theatrical sthe performance I have seen was "grease". I need to experience.

I would love to go to the opera on friday. I would take my father. For lots of reasons, most importantly I get him to hang out with me away from his wife and 4 yr old about once every few months. This week my dad is becoming a grandpa, thanks to my little brother, and I think he is really going to need some love (it depresses him to face aging).

I'll tell a friend to sign up, I'll practice (even tho my neighbors might hate me), and I'll even buy a new dress for the occassion if chosen. :)

stephanie said...

I was like, whaaaaat about your first set of rules! If I won these tickets, I'd take my husband. We've never been to the Tulsa Opera but I know we'd love it. We try to go to plays as often as possible and have gone to a couple of symphonies as well. We always feel like we've become a tad bit more cultured with each show! Thanks for your blog, it's great!

Holly Wall said...

I'm so excited that so many folks who've never been to the opera want to go. Those of you who don't win the free tix should still go. You can get some decent seats for just $30 or $35. And, I promise, the show is well worth it.

(Tasha, I hope this doesn't screw up the Random thing. Sorry!)

Randi said...

I agree with both you and Holly, Tasha. This is a great opera for newbies! At the end there are NO dead bodies on stage (and no heroine singing for 10 minutes before she finally bites the dust)! The comic acting in this production is hilarious. You'll love it!

Brigid said...

Erg, once again I can't go. I would love to go see it if I were in town. I grew up watching opera (back when my dad was the arts reviewer for the T-Dub). I also speak Italian, so I enjoy it even more these days. I hope the winner has a wonderful time!

Charlotte said...

Tasha - FANTASTIC write up on the Opera L'Elisir D'Amour - love reading your blogs

Michelle said...

I'm a winner! As an Opera Virgin, I am looking forward to a wonderful evening! Thank you Tulsa Opera & Tasha!

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