The Merola Opera Program's summer season usually features two operas, but this year, due to economics one supposes, they are only presenting one, Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. While that's not an inspirational choice, it does turn out to be the perfect vehicle for the current crop of Merolini as Thursday night's opening performance at the Cowell Theater demonstrated. The cast alternates each night over the four performances and last night we had the gorgeous Nadine Sierra as Adina, whose large voice easily filled the theater and has a tremendous amount of stage presence. Daniel Montenegro reminds me of a young Villazon as far as looks go, and his acting was definitely an advantage to the production. Thomas Florio was a delightfully sleazy and funny Dulcamara and Benjamin Covey's Belcore was my personal favorite of the night as far as the singers go.
The setting of the production isFort Mason itself, which is fun, doing a spin on the show-within-a-show theme that has been overdone to death lately but worked well in this context. The sets, while spartan, were really nicely done, as were the 40's era costumes (especially the robe Sierra wore during the 2nd half). But what about those shoes Sierra wore at the end? Those were distractingly awful, especially since the costuming for this production was really great.

Sitting in the back row, where you can actually hear the orchestra, they sounded great, especially the harp during "Una furtiva lagrima."

Speaking of shoes, The Opera Tattler showed up in a great pair of red leather pumps, matching stockings and beret and made the rounds. Among the other usual suspects spotted in the house- Josh Kosman, whom I would have introduced myself to once again if it weren't for someone talking his ear off (yeah- that was me Josh, this time with the gorgeous brunette instead of the gorgeous redhead), SF Mike, Otis T. Firefly, oops, I mean David Gockley, Janos G., Smoliar, etc., etc.
There are only three performances left, including tonight. Sunday has the fewest seats left. This is a perfectly delightful production, well-sung, well acted and well worth seeing.
All photos by Kristen Loken: