Brewing the Perfect Elixir

A graphic of a a small bottle with red liquid and reds coming out of it sits in front of double saloon doors.

What would you do to have all the confidence you need to make your dreams come true? The ability to believe in our dreams and stand tall in the face of rejection is something many people desire. With Opera Colorado’s abridged touring production of The Elixir of Love, we hope audiences harness that feeling!

The Elixir of Love follows a simple cowhand, Nemorino, who is in love with a woman whom he thinks is out of his league, Adina. To have the confidence to win her love, Nemorino drinks what he believes is a magical love potion, and hilarity ensures.

Our Artists in Residence will perform this touring opera this season. They travel across all corners of Colorado to schools and community groups. Learn more about this production of The Elixir of Love from the director Cherity Koepke, with a Q&A.

Why did you choose to put on The Elixir of Love?

A woman reads a book while a man looks at her longingly
2023-24 Artists in Residence Kerby Baier and Randy Ho as Adina and Nemorino

This production of The Elixir of Love was created in 2017. Our touring productions at the time were successful, but teachers wanted something new. So, I needed to find something that was interesting, timeless, and realistic for our Artists in Residence to sing; The Elixir of Love was a good fit.

My inspiration came while I was driving through the mountain towns in Colorado and saw the most adorable main streets. I saw these main roads and knew a small Colorado town was where I wanted to set The Elixir of Love. The community in this story is isolated from others but full of many people who have been around each other for their whole lives. I did a tour of these mountain towns and took photos of the main streets to understand the colors and storefronts. It is so exciting to tie this story to Colorado’s own history and perform it for communities within the state.

Why set the piece in old West Colorado?

A man in a black cowboy hat and a white fringe jacket
2023-24 Artist in Residence Alexander Granito as Belcore in The Elixir of Love

In Colorado, all these historical sites and mountain towns surround us. They are now tourist destinations, so we preserve the buildings like artifacts. We have held on to these historical buildings instead of tearing them down, which I think speaks to who we are today as a state. I want The Elixir of Love to honor the early years of Colorado’s statehood. This idea alsoreinforces what kids are learning in school. As they learn about this period of history and see it live on stage with costumes and relatable characters, I think their curiosity about Colorado’s rich history will grow.

What do the sets look like?

Two women cheers with large cups in front of a barrel that says "Root Beer"
2023-24 Artist in Residence Melanie Dubil and Saane Halaholo stand in Auntie Jan’s Root Beer Saloon

The set is a forced perspective, so it looks like the buildings lean in on you. It helps to create the feeling of a sequestered town. It feels isolated but also like something could be just around the corner. One set focuses on a saloon which, in the early 1800s, was a dark space with heavy furniture lit by candles and fires. The one in our story is called Auntie Jan’s Root Beer Saloon, named after Jan Barrow who helped sponsor this touring production. The elixir Nemorino drinks is root beer in a whiskey bottle; don’t worry–this production is adapted for all ages. There is even an operational saloon door for the artists to swing through to enter a scene.

The sets also open to reveal the main street. From my research of Colorado mountain towns, I learned which buildings always seemed to be on the main street and where they are in relation to each other. There is always a bank, general store, hotel/restaurant, and saloon. In the Victorian Age, they used more saturated than today, so you will see that bolder color palette reflected on the main street.

What can you tell us about the costumes?

A man in a red suit tips a hat and holds a large glass bottle
2023-24 Artist in Residence Turner Staton as Dulcamara

The costumes are very accurate to the historical period. Everything in The Elixir of Love is sourced from Colorado, from antique stores to a historical emporium costume factory. These characters are all individuals with strong personalities. In some stories, characters share a color palette to show their connection. However, Adina does not lose her headstrong nature when in love, so her outfit retains her own personality and colors. Additionally, Giannetta, who runs the saloon, wears gaucho pants. I want to remind the audience that women did not always wear dresses, corsets, and bustles. Lastly, pay attention to the dapper nature of Dulcamara, the snake oil salesman. Those in his profession had some helpful remedies–like laudanum, which was one of the few medications to treat pain at the time–but they were mostly viewed as swindlers.

What do you hope audiences take away from The Elixir of Love?

A man looks on, jealous of a crowd gathered around another man
The 2023-24 Artists in Residence acting out a scene in The Elixir of Love

The Elixir of Love is about being brave enough to go after what you want and share your feelings. Many relatable situations in this story encourage audiences to lean into embracing love and accepting others who are different from them. In addition to sharing these values with our audience, I want them to be curious about where they live. They are seeing the history of Colorado in a unique and theatrical format. Every time we put on The Elixir of Love, we are traveling with tiny treasures from all around the state. We use slang from the old West like saying “howdy” instead of “hello” and “gals” instead of “women” or “ladies.”

In terms of our Artists in Residence, I hope they enjoy performing the comedic aspect of this piece. They are engaging with roles they are certain to perform again. Our Nemorino, tenor Randy Ho, shared that this is his favorite role. His voice is so well-suited to this character; I am sure he will sing  Nemorino again. This production, set in the old-West, feels special because Randy is a Colorado native.

See The Elixir of Love for yourself!

Are you excited for The Elixir of Love? Bring this touring production to your school or community center. Email us at  or call 303.778.7350 to reserve. Learn more about this production on our website>>

Did you know that Opera Colorado offers partial scholarships for ALL of our educational programs? Scholarships are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To apply, please fill out and return the appropriate application:

School Scholarship or Community Scholarship

An old West style photo of a group of people sitting and standing in a saloon
The 2023-24 Artists in Residence on set for The Elixir of Love

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