Miller's opera stagings are known for updated settings that aim to give the story being enacted more resonance for a modern-day audience; among his most famous examples are a Mikado set in an Edwardian English seaside resort and a Rigoletto transplanted to Manhattan's Little Italy neighborhood, with the Duke of Mantua turned into a Mafia boss.
This Elixir — a production shared between New York City Opera and the Royal Swedish Opera — moves the proceedings from a 19th-century Italian village to a rural American roadside diner circa 1960. (There's even a big old Chevy convertible with fins.) Miller has made the young hero, Nemorino, from a simple Italian villager into a local mechanic; the young lady for whom he longs, Adina, runs the eatery where the action takes place; his rival for her affections, the soldier Belcore, compares himself to Gary Cooper (even the surtitles are updated); Dr. Dulcamara, who sells the titular elixir, becomes the proverbial snake-oil salesman.
In the first cast, which sang the opening on October 7 and performs through November 2, John Tessier takes the role of Nemorino, with Anna Skibinsky (in her City Opera debut) as Adina, Erin Morley (also a company newcomer) as her friend Giannetta, Paulo Szot as Belcore and Jan Opalach as Dulcamara; City Opera music director George Manahan conducts. For the performances from November 8-16, Gerald Steichen takes over on the podium, with Georgia Jarman as Adina, Leonardo Capalbo making his City Opera debut as Nemorino, Michael Chioldi as Belcore, Jason Grant as Dulcamara and Kathleen Magee as Giannetta.
L'elisir d'amore runs for 11 more performances from October 11 through November 16. For more information and tickets, visit www.nycopera.com.