Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns to return to Southwest Florida for full-scale comedic opera
Gulfshore Opera will present Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (Elixir of Love) for two performances at venues in Charlotte and Collier counties, on April 15 and 21. Steffanie Pearce, Founder and General Director, has created a show that includes both celebrated and up and coming artists from around the world, the Gulfshore Opera Orchestra and Chorus, and a collaboration with Gulfshore Ballet.
Composer Donizetti’s light-hearted comedy bubbles with effervescent arias and charm as the elixir causes as many problems as it solves. It is a story of Nemorino, a poor peasant in love with a beautiful landowner, Adina, and tormented by her utter indifference. The Elixir of Love, is one of Donizetti’s most popular works and is perhaps most known for the famous tenor aria, “Una furtiva lagrima.” Performed regularly throughout the world, this opera is full of comedy, romance, vocal fireworks, and a happily ever after ending.
Ireland’s finest tenor, Anthony Kearns, internationally celebrated South African bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana, and international award winning American soprano Danielle Talamantes, will lead the cast. Ryan McAdams, an international rising star of the conducting scene, will be conducting.
Kearns will return to Southwest Florida for his debut role of Nemorino. The celebrated Irish Tenor known around the world for his PBS appearances and eventful career is a favorite with the people of the United States and Gulfshore Opera audiences. “I’m delighted to be a part of this production. A challenging work, but with a stellar cast it should make for a wonderful experience for all,” said Kearns.
“Anthony Kearns, Ireland’s finest tenor, happily agreed to take on the lead role of Nemorino, saying that it is a role he has long wanted to perform,” said Pearce.
“This opera is fast paced, full of energy and life that is sprinkled with moments of beauty too. A perfect example is in the heart stirring aria “Una furtiva lagrima”. It’s at this point that Nemorino realizes that truly Adina loves him back,” Kearns said.
Bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana will be playing the role of the charlatan medicine man. “I’m looking forward to revisiting the role of Dr. Dulcamara and having the chance to perform for the opera-loving community in Southwest Florida.” said Ngqungwana.
In addition to being an opera singer, Ngqungwana is an inspirational speaker and author. In 2014 he self-published a memoir about his upbringing in South Africa during and following apartheid, focusing on his path to becoming a singer amidst a system of segregation and an impoverished background. Ngqungwana now has a flourishing singing career with engagements on some of the world’s major opera stages.
Rising star and lead soprano, Talamantes, will perform the role of Adina, the object of Nemorino’s affections.
“Donizetti knew how to write for the voice; both in sheer beauty of line as well as for the Commedia dell’arte type characters of Belcore and Dulcamara. My season this year has been filled with dramatic concert work and intense operas, so Elixir is going to feel wonderfully refreshing and playful,” said Talamantes.
Ryan McAdams, an international rising star of the conducting scene, will be at the helm. He is quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting and versatile conductors of his generation, equally prized as a symphonic, operatic, and contemporary music conductor.
“As a child growing up in St. Louis, my mother sang in the ensemble of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and that experience showed me what a major opera company could be for its community, how it gives audiences a sense of ownership and involvement in a production, and how it could showcase local talent.” McAdams said. “For much of my career, I’ve sought out companies with a similar philosophy, and I’m honored to be working with a company that brings together both internationally-renowned and extraordinary local musicians, dancers and artists. I so look forward to leading this deeply silly, beautiful and heartfelt opera.”
A former classmate of Ngqungwana’s, Wes Mason, will play the role of Belcore.
“It is such a pleasure to be heading to the Gulfshore Opera to join this magnificent cast in one of Donzetti’s masterpieces, Elixir of Love. Belcore is one of my favorite roles and I haven’t had an opportunity to play him since my time with Musa Ngqungwana at the Academy of Vocal Arts. I can’t wait to see what magic we will create!” said Mason.
Stage Director David Grabarkewitz explained the charm of Elixir of Love, “We are combining Donizetti’s beautiful, bubbling score with both a tremendous cast of professional singers and a lively group of dancers to enhance the music. I have always considered Elixir to be one of the great romantic comedies, and, although we are traditional in sets and costumes for this production, it is the delightful sparring of Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Desk Set or Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday that are easy examples of how fun a story this can be.”
The Gulfshore Opera Orchestra is made up of the best professional musicians from three counties, including musicians who regularly perform with the Charlotte County Symphony, Southwest Florida Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic.
Led by Artistic Directors Franklin Gamero and Iliana Lopez, former Miami City Ballet principal dancers, Gulfshore Ballet is Southwest Florida’s premier not-for-profit school of Classical Ballet.
With a mission to be inclusive and accessible, Gulfshore Opera offers a limited number of $25 sponsored seats to those who otherwise would not be able to attend.
What: Elixir of Love
When: April 15-21
Where: April 15 – 7:30 p.m. – CPAC, 701 Carmalita St., Punta Gorda, FL
April 21 – 8:00 p.m. – Artis-Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples, FL
Tickets: Single tickets start at $25 (sponsored tickets)
For more information about the performance, please visit www.gulfshoreopera.org or call 239.529.3925.
About Gulfshore Opera
Celebrating its second season, Gulfshore Opera is a regional opera company founded with core values of a community based creative collaboration. Serving Collier, Lee and Charlotte Counties, it seeks to enrich the community by presenting high quality opera-theater and classical vocal music, and promotes community well-being through musical education programs. Its mission is to make opera accessible to the general public by maintaining affordable ticket prices and a wide range of performance experiences suitable for diverse audiences. Gulfshore Opera was founded in 2014 by Steffanie Pearce, who brings 30 years of experience in the field of opera. She is a producer, director, performer, and teacher of the great art form, and has performed around the world.