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Opera eliminates barriers

“The Elixir of Love,” by Gaetano Donizetti, will be presented by students in WSU’s Opera Workshop at 8 p.m. Friday, April 7, and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 8, in the Bryan theater. General seating costs $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.

“Audiences tend to be afraid or put off by the term opera, thinking that it is some distant, high-brow entertainment only for the elite,” said Julie Wieck, director of the Opera Workshop and associate professor in the School of Music and Theatre Arts. “One of my missions is to break down that barrier and introduce the wonderful world of opera to the community at large, while also educating our students.”

First performed in 1832, “The Elixir of Love” takes place in the Italian countryside in the nineteenth century. The story revolves around a young man’s pursuit of his true love. Believing that he needs assistance from outside himself, he purchases an elixir from a traveling snake-oil salesman, which is guaranteed to make the young woman fall in love with him. The elixir, a bottle of cheap wine, gives him the courage to fight for the woman he loves.

“Donizetti is one of three Italian composers including Bellini and Rossini who are known for composing opera in the bel canto style,” said Wieck. “Bel canto, which translates as ‘beautiful singing,’ was the traditional Italian art of singing that emphasized beautiful tone, legato phrasing and strong technique.”

The Opera Workshop program does a full production every spring for Mom’s Weekend, alternating between opera and musical theater, and also presents musical theater productions in the summer.

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