The Star Malaysia - Star2
A local musical troupe brews romance and laughter in its latest production.
LOVE potions are something people would still like to believe in,” muses Danny Chen.
Referring to the titular love potion of Italian comic opera L’elisir d’amore (Elixir Of Love), Chen says people’s sense of romanticism means that his troupe did not need to change the main plot device when modernising the 200-year-old opera.
His Eat Sing Travel People (EST) troupe’s upcoming production of an updated Elixir Of Love tells the tale of working class guy Nemorino, who is in love with the beautiful and bourgeoisie Adina.
Ignored by Adina, Nemorino resorts to buying an elixir of love from travelling salesman/conman Dr Dulcamara to win her over. To up the stakes, police sergeant Belcore comes into the picture and turns the love story into a love triangle, as he attempts get the girl too.
Between the two men fighting over a lovely lady and Dr Dulcamara’s dubious potions, Elixir Of Love is as close as an opera from two centuries ago gets to the modern romantic comedies we’ve become accustomed to.
Chi Hoe Mak, 36, who plays Dr Dulcamara, reveals that in updating the opera, the cast focused on bringing their characters – rather than the script – into the 21st century.
He jokes that while his Dr Dulcamara may now be a travelling salesman rather than the original’s quack doctor, he is still ultimately a conman selling bogus products.
Mak notes that Adina (played by Yeoh Ker Ker) has also been updated: she is now an entrepreneur who owns most of the property in the town in which the story is set, while in the original she was a rent-earning landowner.
“While it’s not an apparent difference, it’s more fitting with the world of today where a woman can be wealthy by her own efforts and entrepreneurship,” says Mak.
The love rivals Nemorino and Belcore remain largely the same as in the original opera, albeit with new jobs. Chen, 41, who plays Belcore, says the character remains as originally pompous and full of himself as Dr Dulcamara does, but is now a police sergeant instead of a soldier. “Instead of marching through town and stumbling upon Adina, this version of Belcore has had his eyes set on her beauty and money for a while.”
Tan Jong Han, 31, says he identifies with his character, Nemorino, who is a bit shy but means well. “My Nemorino works in a gelato shop (the original is a peasant) and invents silly new flavours, like a pizzaflavoured gelato, all so he can ask Adina to test them, as an excuse to spend time with her,”
for a teaser trailer of the music of