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FHSU has 'Elixir' for good opera





Fort Hays State University opera students are gearing up to perform the "Elixir of Love," a classic love triangle.

"This is one of the most standard repertoire pieces," said Joseph Perniciaro, associate professor of music and theatre, and director of opera. "It's a standard big-city production, and has been popular since its premiere."

"Elixir of Love" tells the story of Nemorino, a young man who calls upon a "quack" doctor who sells him a love potion. The love potion turns out to be a bottle of wine.

"Once he's drunk, he has less fears and less hesitation," Perniciaro said. "It's a little bit of a Cinderella story. (Nemorino) isn't seen as being smart or having a lot of money, but he ends up getting the girl."

The show stars Eriana Holle, a junior, who began working with Perniciaro in high school.

"I kind of just followed him to college," Holle said. "He persuaded me to get involved in opera, and I fell in love."

Holle will be attending an opera program in Austria this summer.

"I decided I wanted to go abroad since I stayed in the states last year," she said. "I researched programs and narrowed it down. I'm so excited."

Perniciano said it is common for serious opera students to attend summer programs, and they tend to continue their studies in graduate school or young-artist apprentice programs.

"In voice, you really have to go to grad school or a young-artist apprentice program to continue training," he said.

Students who are interested in operatic performing typically receive a bachelor's degree of music in performance, with an emphasis in voice.

"Realistically, if you're going to school for a degree in music, you are going to be classically trained," Perniciano said. "When you finish, hopefully you have enough of a technique to also do musical theater, not just opera."

Calder Craig, a senior, will be attending Manhattan School of Music after his graduation in May.

"I realized many, many years ago my voice was suited for opera," Craig said. "I took lessons and was taught in a way with opera in mind, so it just happened naturally after that."

After graduate school, he hopes to begin auditioning for operatic roles.

"I'm excited to have gotten this production under my belt," Craig said. "This production is sort of a staple in opera history, so it's good to be able to put on my resume and be able to have the role learned -- regardless of the fact that we're doing it in English. I'll have to relearn it in Italian."

The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall. Tickets can be purchased online.