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Sam Mungo, Garry Marshall team up for opera

By Marc Speir
University News Service
January 25, 2008


Garry Marshall and Texas State professor Sam Mungo present Donizetti’s opera ‘Elixir of Love.’

Hollywood legend Garry Marshall and Texas State University-San Marcos professor Sam Mungo will present Donizetti’s opera Elixir of Love Jan. 25-27 at the San Antonio Opera.

Performances run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio. The opera will be sung in Italian with English and Spanish supertitles projected above the stage. Tickets range from $20 to $90 with discounts available for students, children and clergy. The show lasts two hours and 15 minutes with one intermission.

Current Texas State students William Hearn, Rachel Albrecht and Creighton Brown will be in the production alongside recent graduates Madeline Elizondo and Megan Eyden.

Elixir of Love is a comedy about a shy, penniless young man that falls in love with a rich and attractive woman. He attempts to lure her with the aid of a “magic elixir” instead of charming her with the power of his true love.

The San Antonio Opera recommended Mungo, director of opera studies at Texas State and assistant director of the show, to assist Marshall in directing his second opera.

Mungo said the collaboration has been a great opportunity to blend his experience in musical theatre and opera with Marshall’s film and theatre background.

“Garry brings in new ideas and the fun of the show,” Mungo said. “I’m here to help and illustrate that we don’t need to bow completely to any rigid constructs or formats in opera.”

Marshall, known as a master of comedic timing, is one of most revered writers, producers, actors and directors of television, film and theatre.

His extensive career includes directing such films as The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman and Beaches, producing Happy Days and The Odd Couple, and writing for The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy.

He spoke at Texas State on Thursday about his career and the challenge of directing a less familiar art form.

“There’s nothing you can’t do,” Marshall, addressing a full room, said. “They told me love stories wouldn’t work overseas… well, we had Pretty Woman run for a full year at a theatre in India.”

The 73-year-old Renaissance man also encouraged students to complete their degrees.

“Nobody ever rose that couldn’t close,” Marshall said. “People like to see that you’ll finish the things you start.”

Marshall and Mungo added that they are trying to market the opera to a broader demographic.

“The challenge is to get younger generations over the image of the fat lady singing in a foreign language with a Viking helmet,” Mungo said. “You can change the vernacular and bring in guys like Garry that make it a more accessible art form without having to dumb it down.”

The pair balanced the comedy of the opera with the emotion of the music through the use of movement, the way characters relate to each other on stage, and rewriting titles with jokes and fresh translations while staying true to the original words.

“There’s real heart to Garry’s works,” Mungo said. “We were able to use that talent and translate it to the aspects of the Italian language.”

Mungo’s next project will be a Texas State opera studies production of The Magic Flute in April.

For ticket sales, directions and additional information concerning Elixir of Love, visit http://www.saopera.com/elixir.html#.