Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" was a great hit in Italy in the mid-19th century, and it figures to be just as popular at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge this summer.
"We did a tragedy last summer so we talked about it and decided that we should follow that up with a light, romantic comedy," said David Andrew Snider, in his third summer as executive director of Hubbard Hall. "It's very accessible, very interactive, so I think our audience is going to love it. Our opera always does very well. We usually sell out for most of our performances and hopefully we will do that again this summer."
Andrew Nienaber will be directing the production, and Maria Sensi Sellner is the conductor. The show opens Friday at 7 p.m., and continues on Saturday, with three shows set for next week, Aug. 16th, 18th and 20th.
Nienaber has been on the directing staff at several major opera companies around the U.S., including the Dallas Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Cincinnati Opera and Fort Worth Opera. Sellner, meanwhile, is the Artistic and General Director of Resonance Works in Pittsburgh, a multi-modal performing arts company she formed in 2012. Also an artistic advisor at Hubbard Hall, Sellner is one of 10 international conductors selected to be a part of the 2017 Hart Institute for Women Conductors at the Dallas Opera this fall.
"We are so fortunate to have people like Andrew and Maria working with us," said Snider. "Andrew is based in New York and he's heading to Boise, Idaho next, and I hired Maria to help me put together our summer season. She'll be going back to Pittsburgh, and they both have experience with this opera."
The "Elixir" opera has five principal characters. They are Patrick McNally, Lindsay Ohse, Christopher Lucier, Andrew Adelsberger and Rebecca Shorestein.
"They are all based in New York City and they've all been to the hall before," said Snider. "They are great singers, and the story is about a guy who cleans a place that belongs to a rich landowner, and he falls in love with the woman."
Snider said a portion of this year's audience at Hubbard Hall will feel like they're part of the show.
"The premium seats that we have are our cafe tables on the floor at the hall, and the principals and the chorus will be singing around them," explained Snider. "The chorus will be the wait staff and will be singing as they pass through with wine and food. Our 17-piece orchestra, which will be the big-band style for this show because it's set in the late 1940s and early '50s, will be up on stage for this version.
"We have such an intimate setting here at Hubbard Hall to begin with, only 120 seats, that our audience will really feel like part of the action," Snider continued. "People will marvel that they're watching these great opera singers and they're literally just a few feet away."
The age range of audience members at Hubbard Hall is quite varied.
" We get a pretty good following from young people," said Snider. "There's usually a pretty good spread, anywhere from 16 to 85. And for this show, we might even get a younger crowd because it is so accessible."
'The Elizir of Love'
WHERE: Hubbard Hall, 25 E. Main St., Cambridge
WHEN: Opens Friday at 7 p.m.; other performances are at 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Aug. 16 and 18, and 2 p.m. Aug. 20
HOW MUCH: $60-$20
MORE INFO: 677-2495, ext. 311; www.hubbardhall.org