After a start in the Sarasota Youth Opera, Adelaide Boedecker now stars in her hometown in Sarasota Opera’s ‘The Elixir of Love’

‘The Elixir of Love’: Continues through March 21 at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 941-328-1322; sarasotaopera.org


Soprano Adelaide Boedecker grew up singing at Church of the Redeemer in downtown Sarasota, but it wasn’t until she attended a performance of the Sarasota Youth Opera’s "Arabica" as a child and saw her sister’s friend playing a coffee bean that she had the first glimmers of her future career.


Boedecker went on to perform in the Youth Opera herself for 10 years, and this season becomes the first former Youth Opera singer to have a leading role in a Sarasota Opera production.


She stars as the wealthy Adina, dealing with multiple suitors, in Donizetti’s comic opera "The Elixir of Love."


Last season, as one of the company’s studio artists, she was given the opportunity to sing the role of Pamina in one performance of Mozart’s "The Magic Flute," which brought out her large local fan base. She was later offered the role of Adina. After the current season ends, she will return to the role of Pamina in a production of "Flute" for Opera Las Vegas.


Now living in Atlanta with her husband, bass-baritone Calvin Griffin, and close to her two sisters, she still calls Sarasota home and looks back fondly on her start with the Youth Opera.


"They really treat you the way they treat the adults, even though they know you are youth. If you’re not early, you’re late. They hold you to the same expectations," she said. "It’s evident when we have three youth opera members in ‘Elixir.’ They’re little but they understood every single aspect of staging directions. They quietly stood there and received all the information and they were having a blast."


In Youth Opera, she learned "the lingo of what different things mean for staging and what the backstage aspect of the opera is like. It set me up beautifully for deciding to pursue this as a career. The transition to a professional career here and around the country where I’ve sung has been very seamless."


In 2006, when she was 17 and nearing the end of her time with the Youth Opera, Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi invited her to play the role of Barbarina in "The Marriage of Figaro."


"Maestro DeRenzi called me in to sing an aria for a small group of people in the theater, Barbarina’s aria from ‘Marriage of Figaro,’" she recalled. The group included conductor Anthony Barrese. "Maestro DeRenzi played for me. It’s just a one-page aria, but they discussed it and called me to sing the role in the opera. They got me a coach. It taught me language, and sold me on doing it professionally.


"I loved learning Italian. I loved that learning curve. I loved learning what (recitative) was, which is basically sung dialogue."


She juggled her preparation with her academic classes, but "it became evident to me that it was what I wanted to pursue as a career."


After graduating from Pine View School, she studied at the University of Florida and the Eastman School of Music and has since sung roles for Opera Birmingham, Pittsburgh Opera, the San Francisco Opera Merola Program and the Music Academy of the West in California, as well as Opera Las Vegas.


Singing Adina is a major deal in her emerging career.


"Getting to be one of the main characters for the entire run of ‘Elixir of Love?’ There’s a moment where you kind of pinch yourself and realize you’ve grown up and I’m coming back and they believe in me enough. And we’re having a good time."


In her review of the performance, Herald-Tribune music critic T. Michele Walker wrote that "Boedecker not only has the fine coloratura necessary for Donizetti, but turns in a nice comedic performance that connects with the audience. It is a fun romp, presenting a flawed character who could be easy to dislike in lesser hands."


Boedecker describes "Marriage of Figaro" and "Elixir" as among her favorites, because they feature "women who outsmart all the guys and win the day."


Adina "is this female landowner in the mid-1800s. She’s the smartest person on the stage. I just love smart female characters and gravitate towards that. I really love the fact that the story is just full of love and that Adina has some sass to her, doesn’t let her guard down easily. She loves everybody she comes into contact with, even if she has a little tough outer shell."


Boedecker has had a few opportunities to work with her husband since they were married in 2017.


"We’ve done six jobs together and we love it. If anyone wants to hire us it’s a two-for-one deal. We just did a piece for Santa Fe Opera, just two people in the cast about a couple and my character has lost her memory and he’s trying to help get my memory back. It was Calvin being right next to me before a show. There are no nerves. I know no matter what, we have each other’s back."


Their relationship surprised her, though.


"I swore I would never marry a singer. I told my mom, I’m never going to marry a singer, never dating a singer and steering clear of musicians. Two months later, I met Calvin. He’s my person. He’s the best man. He chooses joy in every aspect of life. I definitely get more frazzled and he’s just cool, the calm in the water."