Manitoba Opera

May 28, 2024

10 Things to Note About the Upcoming Season’s Shows

The Elixir of Love (L’elisir d’amore)

  • Composer Gaetano Donizetti was a very versatile dramatist. He wrote over 70 operas, as well as cantatas, sacred works, orchestral works, and chamber music.
  • For many years, legend had it that The Elixir of Love was composed in two weeks. This has been disproved; however, composing this work in just six weeks is an exceptional accomplishment.
  • Although originally set in an Italian village, The Elixir of Love can easily be set virtually anywhere, as it is an opera in which there is no essential local colour to be preserved. The typical motifs of impromptu comedy and simple melodies reminiscent of folk song give the piece its charm and contribute to its popularity.
  • The Elixir of Love is a mixture of several old recipes for comedy, but its delicate depiction of the psychology of love and its study of desire are very modern.
  • Dr. Dulcamara is considered one of the great comedy figures of the operatic stage. His name means “bitter-sweet” and he is more than the stereotype of an itinerant quack. It is a very rewarding role for bass buffos. With the wisdom of a man of experience, he uses his wiles to help the undecided make up their minds and ultimately, find happiness.


La Bohème

  • Being one of the most famous operas in the repertoire, it’s no surprise that La Bohème has inspired musicals, films, and even cartoons including the1987 movie Moonstruck starring Cher and Nicholas Cage, the 1996 musical Rent, set in New York, and an episode of the long-running animated TV show, The Simpsons.
  • When Puccini wrote La Bohème he had already achieved renown as the composer of Manon Lescaut which had scored a sensational success. La Bohéme, the composer’s fourth opera, won him even greater fame, and he was hailed as the successor to Verdi.
  • The characters of this opera are said to be fairly accurate portraits of artists and habitués of the Latin Quarter of Paris who were friends of Henri Murger, the author of the novel Scènes de la Vie de Bohème, during his early days as a struggling writer.
  • The opera’s main characters – Rodolfo, Mimi, Musetta, and Marcello – are very relatable and that has contributed to the success of this piece. They are regular human beings. They’re our neighbors, the people we went to school with, maybe a great group of friends or roommates with whom we built strong bonds.
  • Puccini actually competed with another famous Italian composer, Ruggero Leoncavallo, to debut the first La Bohème and it cost them their friendship. Leoncavallo had claimed huge success with his opera Pagliacci a few years earlier, and he wanted to beat Puccini by writing his own La Bohème. He lost though, as Puccini’s version came out in 1896 and Leoncavallo’s in 1897. However, Puccini’s version had already made its mark by then, and their friendship did not survive the race.
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