DAYTON, OH (September 30, 2021) – On Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director Kathleen Clawson, will present Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love to open the 2021–2022 season. This opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles. The performance will be 90 minutes in length with no intermission.
Dayton Opera launches its 2021–2022 season with Gaetano Donizetti’s lighthearted romantic comedy The Elixir of Love. Nemorino, a love-struck young farmer, sighs for the lovely landowner Adina, but is too shy to tell her. Thinking he is outclassed, he is utterly hopeless when Adina responds to the sexy swagger of the conceited Sergeant Belcore, until the sly traveling salesman Dr. Dulcamara produces a magic tonic (that is nothing more than a bottle of cheap red wine!) In a contemporary setting that is sure to intoxicate all audiences, The Elixir of Love is a dazzling bel canto jewel that proves true love is the most powerful potion of all!
Dayton Opera is thrilled to welcome Kathleen Clawson in her first official season as Artistic Director of Dayton Opera. Kathleen has been inspiring Dayton Opera with her creativity and leadership for over 12 years as Stage Director for 15 performances. Concurrent with her time with Dayton Opera, Kathleen has worked for the Santa Fe Opera for over 18 seasons and is the Associate Director of their Apprentice Singer Program and Director of the Young Voices of the Santa Fe Opera. She also served on the faculty of the University of New Mexico Department of Theatre and Dance for 20 years, where she taught courses in musical theater. Kathleen will take the lead directing the inaugural 2021–2022 season production of The Elixir of Love.
Donizetti’s delightful score comes to life through the masterful playing of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Conductor Clinton Smith. Clinton returns to Dayton Opera for a third time as guest conductor, having last taken the podium in February 2020 when he teamed up with Kathleen (in her role as stage director) for Rossini’s sparkling comedy, La Cenerentola. He recently concluded a collective nine years as music and artistic director of both Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers and the St. Cloud Symphony, conducting over 60 orchestral, oratorio, chamber, pops, educational, and holiday concert performances. Additionally, he has served on the music staffs of Juilliard Opera, Minnesota Opera, Atlanta Opera, Portland Opera, Kentucky Opera and Ash Lawn Opera. He joins the music staff of Sarasota Opera this season as cover conductor for Attila and Tosca, and he just finished his ninth summer on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera, covering the world premiere of John Corigliano and Mark Adamo’s The Lord of Cries.
Returning to Dayton Opera to perform the lead role as the poor young peasant Nemorino is tenor Benjarmin Werley. Ben makes his third appearance with Dayton Opera, having last appeared in the role of admirer Narraboth in Dayton Opera’s May 2019 production of Salome and as a soloist in the DPAA New Year’s Eve celebration Bella Italia! in December 2019. He has performed recently in roles with Virginia Opera as Lippo Fiorentino in Kurt Weil’s Street Scene, with Cleveland Opera as Alfredo in La Traviata, with Central City Opera Red Whiskers Britten’s Billy Budd, as Canio for Salt Marsh Opera’s Pagliacci, and in a debut with St. Pete Opera as il Duca in Rigoletto. Ben has been praised by Opera News as having a “gleaming, flexible tenor.”
Making her Dayton Opera debut as Adina, the beautiful landowner and object of Nemorino’s affection, is soprano Sarah Tucker. Sarah has recently performed with San Diego Opera as Micaëla in Carmen, with Pensacola Opera as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni; and as Mimi in La Bohème with Gulfshore Opera. She also recently made debuts at Dallas Opera as Frasquita in Carmen and at the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy in Japan as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Praised by Opera Today for “pure, clear tones” and lauded by the Arizona Republic for “purity and vivacious charm,” young soprano, Tucker is demanding attention for her captivating vocal timbre and engaging stage presence.
Baritone Jorell Williams is also making his Dayton Opera debut as the arrogant Sergeant Belcore. An operatic baritone with a wide variety of experience from standard repertoire to premiere pieces, Jorell has been hailed by Opera News as having “a solid vocal core and easy, natural production” and the New York Times for being “magnificent” and “rich toned”, as well as having “perfect” comedic timing. This coming season, Jorell will be performing in the world premieres of A More Perfect Union with the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, followed by Ricky Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel in a co-production of The Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater. Williams is an advocate for artist rights and is a newly appointed artistic council advisor for On-Site Opera and the new music board for the Brooklyn Art Song Society, using his experience to consult with arts organizations on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.
Also a Dayton Opera debut, baritone Andrew Wilkowske takes the stage as the traveling medicine man Doctor Dulcamara. According to Opera News, Wilkowske’s recent performance in The Elixir of Love with Utah Opera was “played with on-the-nose hubris and vocal swagger.” He comes to Dayton Opera after having just performed in the monodrama Lucy with Eugene Opera. In his spare time when not on stage performing roles from the classic opera repertoire, Wilkowske has co-created the rock recital Guns N’ Rosenkavalier with composer John Glover, featuring the music of Schubert, Schumann, Faurè, Strauss, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and Madonna. The concert was most recently heard at 5 Boroughs Music Festival in New York, and has also played to acclaim at Mill City Summer Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and Milwaukee Opera Theatre. Additionally, Wilkowske’s escapades as opera’s favorite barber are documented in his award-winning “A Year of Figaro” blog.
The setting for this unique production is the modern West, lending a fresh take to a classic work. The scenic elements have been locally created after a design by Kathleen Clawson for similar productions in New Mexico and Utah. The costumes are designed by Dayton Ballet’s wonderful Wardrobe Supervisor Lyn Baudendistel. Brilliant resident lighting designer John Rensel will light this production.
The DPAA is excited to welcome audiences back to the 2021–2022 Season. The health and safety of patrons, performers, staff, and volunteers is our top priority. Beginning October 1, 2021, in partnership with DPAA’s venue partner Dayton Live, the following new health and safety protocols will be in place at all performances and events until further notice:
- Vaccination – Proof of vaccination (vaccination card or a photo of card on phone), along with a valid ID, must be presented by all attendees.
- Testing – If you have not been fully vaccinated for any reason, you must provide proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test (within 72 hours) or a negative rapid antigen test (within 24 hours) of performance.
- Masks – Masks will be required for all patrons over the age of 2 during entire visit while attending a DPAA performance or event. Mask must cover both nose and mouth.
- Age Restrictions – Children under the age of 12 are exempt from providing proof of a COVID test in order to attend.
Tickets for The Elixir of Love begin at $5 and are available by calling the box office at (937) 228-3630 or by visiting www.daytonperformingarts.org. Senior, student, and military discounts are available. For more information on tickets, or how to subscribe to the 2021–2022 season, visit www.daytonperformingarts.org.
About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (DPAA) was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the greater Dayton community, with a mission to be the community’s indispensable source for traditional, diverse and innovative experiences in ballet, opera, and orchestral music. The vision of the DPAA is to transform lives through the power of music and dance. The DPAA offers a wide variety of performance and education programs, setting a new standard for artistic excellence. DPAA performances reach an audience of more than 90,000 people annually, and their rich arts education programming serves over 60,000 schoolchildren in 150 schools in the Miami Valley. These performances and education initiatives are made possible in part through major support provided by the Ohio Arts Council, Culture Works, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County and the National Endowment for the Arts