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San Diego Opera’s ‘The Elixir Of Love’

Bass Kevin Burdette Talks About L’Amore

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has American bass Kevin Burdette talk about "The Elixir of Love" and the romance of singing in Italian.

It’s Valentine’s Day, love is in the air, and San Diego Opera has love for sale with Donizetti’s "The Elixir of Love” (opening Saturday at the San Diego Civic Theater) American bass Kevin Burdette tells us all about l’amore.

Kevin Burdette comes out of his dressing room for his interview looking a bit like the Mad Hatter.

“I am singing the role of Dr. Dulcamara in ‘The Elixir of Love,’” Burdette tells me. “He is the peddler of the elixir, he’s the potion peddler.”

The titular potion promises to do everything and anything Burdette explains.

“This elixir, for one thing, it makes less attractive people look beautiful, and the less wealthy more well off," Burdette said. "It has made a 70-year-old man have kids, it takes away wrinkles, it makes your skin soft, resplendent and shiny, it’s Oil of Olay please buy it. I’m sort of a snake oil salesman. He [Dulcamara] likes to talk people into things. and to be able to use the words in, especially as Donizetti sets them, it’s just a blast, he spits the words, he has a patter aria -- a patter aria being that you talk really fast, say a lot of words to the tune and that sort of thing to me is a total blast.”

An opera involving love and a fast-talking salesman is perfect in Italian, Burdette says.

“The Italian is really on the tip of the tongue," he said. "I’m from the South, Tennessee, and so you sort of talk in the back of your mouth. But when it calls for, the Italian, really calls for rapid fire speaking, that Italian really helps to pop it out.”

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Cory Weaver.

Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti is Nemorino and bass Kevin Burdette is Dulcamara in San Diego Opera's "The Elixir of Love," February, 2014.

In the opera, Burdette explains, his character is approached by a young man and asked 'Do you have an elixir of love?’

"A 'Love Potion No. 9' as it were, and I search around and say hey how about this bottle of Bordeaux, maybe that’s a love potion, and as it turns out, maybe the walls that come down from thinking that, from the placebo effect, thinking you have an elixir of love, for whatever reason, Nemorino is able to get his love, Adina and he do fall in love. And my elixir is to take the credit,” he said.

Burdette concludes by suggesting “The Elixir of Love” is a perfect first opera since it’s light and is essentially a “rom-com opera” that’s perfect for Valentine’s weekend or a date night.

“The Elixir of Love” is presented by San Diego Opera and runs through Feb. 23 at the San Diego Civic Theater.

Companion viewing: "The Elixir of Love" (2009, San Francisco Opera), "Daughter of the Regiment" (1974 with Beverly Sills)


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