Meet the Artists

Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love is one of the most popular opera works in the repertoire for good reason. This playful comedy is brought to life by the characters, Adina and Nemorino. We are lucky to have Vanessa Becerra and Andrew Stenson as two of our incredible principal singers in this production! Recently, they sat down with us to answer a few questions about themselves, talk about the joys of performing, and discuss what they hope audiences will take away from the production. 


Describe your character in three words. 

VB: Confident, Tender, Independent. 

AS: Honest, Devoted, Tipsy. 


What are some of the joys and challenges of performing this role?  

VB: The joy is getting to sing this beautiful score. I feel lucky to have sung so much Donizetti this year and Adina’s music is especially exquisite. Her playfulness, lighthearted nature, and flirtatious spirit come through so beautifully. I have loved getting to know her “musically.” Dramatically, Adina is very much a three-dimensional human; she’s complicated and lets her ego get the best of her at times, but I find that very relatable! The challenge is making sure her sincere and lovable side is always there.  

AS: I like to try and drink a whole bottle of “elixir” before the end of act one, which is a challenge because it’s a whole bottle of something in like 20 minutes, but it’s also a joy because I’m very hydrated by the end of the act!

I rarely get to perform roles that require both drama and comedy as much as this show.  Nemorino has breathtaking moments of sincerity and gets to be ridiculously absurd immediately after.  Most of the time the funny tenor parts are character roles, so it’s really nice to be able to show these parts of myself in leading material. 

What themes or messages from The Elixir of Love do you think will resonate most with audiences? In what ways is this piece relevant today? 

VB: The power of love, baby!! We can drink all the “magic elixirs” we want but nothing can replace pure, sweet, undeniable love.   

AS: Elixir is a hilarious romantic comedy that shows necessary courage can come from unexpected places.  I think those are both timeless. 


What do you hope that audiences will take away from this production? 

VB: I hope our audience enjoys this production as an opportunity to relax, unwind, and let the levity and beauty of this score transport them to a calm and peaceful mind space. There is so much going on, I would love to provide a couple hours’ reprieve from the outside world and supply some laughs, joy, and inspire love. 

AS: Seeing Carmen at Minnesota Opera started this whole opera journey for me.  I remember leaving the Ordway and thinking to myself “that was the coolest thing I have ever seen, I HAVE to do this”.   Hopefully we can have that same effect on someone, but I also hope our audience can leave our show thinking “that was freakin hilarious/entertaining.”

As artists, we all get caught up in making something so profound that burns itself onto the soul.  For the longest time, I viewed anything less than a transcendent experience to be a failure, but I find myself seeing beauty in “entertainment” as much as something that may be challenging.  Some may argue the idea of entertainment is cheaper thing than art, but at this point in my life I believe the two frequently go hand in hand.  Elixir has deeply profound music, but is also ridiculous and silly and BOTH of those things have great value.  I hope a laugh can have as much of an impact as “Una Furtiva Lagrima.”


Do you have any plans for your time in Minnesota? Anything you are particularly excited to do while you are in town? 

VB: The food scene in the Twin Cities is truly astounding! I started my restaurant tour last season during Daughter of the Regiment and am so excited to continue eating my way through town! I am also looking forward to exploring more outside spaces with my dog Coco who is part Great Pyrenees – Winter is her absolute favorite! 

AS: I plan at eating at all of Ann Kim’s restaurants and finally enjoying MN sports surrounded by MN sports fans (and hopefully watching Green Bay losses while surrounded by MN sports fans). 

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