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Winter Opera St. Louis modernizes, sets Italian comic opera ‘L’Elisir d’Amore’ on The Hill

Andrew Potter (L), Gina Galati and Peter Scott Drackley joined host Don Marsh to talk about Winter Opera St. Louis’ final production of the season, “L’Elisir d’Amore.’
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Andrew Potter (L), Gina Galati and Peter Scott Drackley joined host Don Marsh to talk about Winter Opera St. Louis’ final production of the season, “L’Elisir d’Amore.’ ";s:3:"uri

For more than 10 years, Winter Opera St. Louis has filled what once was a void in St. Louis’ opera scene – no opera performances during the winter months.

The professional company’s final production of the season is Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera, “L’Elisir d’Amore.” The opera, which translates to English as “The Elixir of Love,” is about a poor villager (Nemorino) who buys a love potion from a traveling salesman (Dulcamera) after his attempts to woo a wealthy and beautiful woman (Adina) fail.

“We’re actually modernizing [the opera] just slightly,” said Gina Galati, a soprano and general director of Winter Opera who sings the role of Adina. “We’re setting this in the 1940s on The Hill in St. Louis.”

Patrons may recognize some St. Louis storefronts as part of the set.

“It’s bringing it home and we’re in our eleventh season and it’s kind of nice to pay homage to where we began,” Galati said, explaining that Winter Opera’s offices are on The Hill and the company’s first productions were at St. Ambrose Church.

In addition to Galati, joining St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh was Peter Scott Drackley, a tenor who sings the role of the villager Nemorino, and Andrew Potter, a bass who sings the role of the salesman Dulcamera.

“One of things that I love most is that opera is becoming more and more approachable,” Potter said of the stigma opera has received for being an exclusive art form. “As we see a new generation of opera patron, I think that we have to make opera more applicable to them and to their day-to-day life.”

To that end, Galati noted Winter Opera’s efforts to reach a younger audience including Friday night pizza and soda performances.

“It seems to be working,” she said. “We’re launching some young educational programs and just getting our name out there to younger people.”

“L’Elisir d’Amore” will be performed in Italian and have projected English subtitles.

Native English-speaking opera performers are accustomed to singing in another language.

“A lot of study,” said Drackley of preparing for productions. “My friends call it ‘the office.’ I go to a Starbucks and I sit there and study.”

Performances are Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at the Skip Viragh Center of the Arts at Chaminade High School.

Related Event

What: Winter Opera Presents Donizetti’s "L’Elisir d’Amore"
When: Friday, March 9, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Skip Viragh Center of the Arts at Chaminade High School, 425 S Lindbergh Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63131

More information

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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