Students seduced by The Elixir of Love 

A UNLV Rebel offers a firsthand account of being placed under the spell of the opera’s dress rehearsal


It is 7:30 p.m. Monday and I am sitting in Artemus Ham Hall, anticipating the first few notes of a fantastic score. Tonight is the second among the few dress rehearsals of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore or The Elixir of Love. The energy is absolutely tantalizing. For the budding artists and seasoned directors here tonight, months of relentless blood, sweat and tears are about to pay off.

As I look up at the stage, I feel immediately transformed and mesmerized. The Italian opera is specially tailored to the tastes of locals with it’s newly acquired Las Vegas theme, which has transformed both the characters’ appearances and setting of the production. Before I know it, I’m no longer in a performance hall but a Las Vegas casino. The original setting was a small village in the Basque countryside, but as Dr. Linda Lister, director of opera studies at UNLV and the opera’s stage director, said it was important to change the setup.

“We wanted to update the setting to make it more relatable to a contemporary audience,” she said.

The cast of The Elixir of Love practices during a dress rehearsal at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on Sunday.

In this production, a maintenance man named Nemorino tries desperately to earn the affections of a stubborn and beautiful mixologist, Adina. Following Adina’s engagement with Belcore, a flashy and haughty poker player, Nemorino purchases the so-called “Elixir of Love” from Dr. Dulcamera who is fond of placebos. He consumes the “elixir” with the hope of winning Adina’s heart before it is too late. Nemorino is oblivious to the fact that the “elixir” is merely alcohol, which to the people of Las Vegas can in fact serve as a convincing love potion.

The production is sung in Italian, but never fear, for there are subtitles. L’elisir d’amore features the aria “Una furtive lagrima,” made famous by global icon and legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Many of the cast members and instrumentalists were more than eager to express their admiration for the opera and the sheer adrenaline pumping through their veins.

“This will be my first time in the pit and I could not be more thrilled,” Maria Myllyla, the production’s trumpet player said.

Jonathan Mancheni, who played Nemorino, said he was also “very excited” when he was first cast in August.

Lead singer Alfredo Martirena, left, and David Casey during a dress rehearsal for The Elixir of Love at UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on March 10, 2013.

The Elixir of Love features Isabella Ivy and Lindsay Cunningham as Adina, Jonathan Mancheni and Alfredo Martinera as Nemorino, Jonathan Napier-Morales and Elliot Matheny as Belcore, Kathleen McVicker and Bonita Bunt as Gianetta, and Nathan Van Arsdale as Dr. Dulcamera. It also features the UNLV Chamber Chorale, directed by David Weiller.

The production additionally showcases the work of student designers from the theater department as well as Kaileigh O’Neill from the dance department.

The Elixir of Love runs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. There will also be a matinee performance at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 in Artemus Ham Hall. Dr. Linda Lister directs the opera alongside Maestro Taras Krysa who conducts the UNLV Symphony Orchestra.

General admission to The Elixir of Love is $25, with $15 tickets for seniors, faculty and military and $5 tickets for UNLV students with a RebelCard. For more information or ticket inquiries, visit or call 702-895-ARTS (2787).

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