Opera goes ‘totally rad’ with fun ‘80s-themed ‘Elixir Of Love’

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A reenvisioned 19th Century opera is set in a Valley high school campus in 1985

Review by Tim Lydeen

I recently had the pleasure of attending Center Stage Opera’s totally rad, ‘80s-themed, fully staged production of Donizetti’s “The Elixir Of Love” at Reseda High School’s Performing Arts Center. Performed with the acclaimed CSO orchestra, conducted by newly named musical conductor Mercedes Musotto, director Dylan F. Thomas has reenvisioned the 19th Century opera to take place in a San Fernando Valley high school campus in 1985 — and what better place for that than an actual Valley high school campus!

Surprisingly, the original story of “Elixir” lends itself perfectly to the stereotypical teen comedies of the ‘80s. It’s campy and fun in ways that you don’t normally see in opera productions. It’s like a combination of Valley Girl and Fast Times at Ridgemont High with a little John Hughes’ teen comedy thrown in. The cast was having the time of their lives on stage. This is the first production as conductor for Ms. Musotto who has become one of the very few women, let alone Hispanic women, to serve an opera company in this capacity.

This production also marks the inauguration of CSO’s major outreach to LA’s Spanish-speaking community. The supertitles of the Italian libretto were projected above the stage in both English and Spanish, as well as in totally righteous “Val-speak” slang, of course. They are hoping that this will be a major step in bringing the Spanish-speaking community into the opera genre and make it more accessible to them. The company has always featured an exceptional and diverse multi-talented cast, orchestra and crew.

There are just two performances left of this “bitchin’” production: this Saturday, February 10 at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 11 at 3pm. If you are young and have never been to an opera before, this would be a fun introduction. If you are a little older, and actually remember the ‘80s, it will be like a blast from the past.

CSO at The Performing Arts Center at Reseda High School, 18230 Kittridge St. For tickets and information about upcoming productions, visit CenterStageOpera.org or call (818) 517-4102.


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