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A conversation with Elixir of Love lead and Miss Indiana -- Betsy Uschkrat

Gaetano Donizetti's The Elixir of Love is considered by many to be comic opera at its sparkling best. In the Indiana University Opera Theatre's Summer Music Festival production, one of the two singers in the lead female role of Adina is Betsy Uschkrat, a masters student in vocal performance at the Jacobs School of Music and the reigning Miss Indiana. Live at IU caught up with Betsy during a rare pause in her busy schedule and asked her about the upcoming production and her future plans. The Elixir of Love is on stage at the Musical Arts Center on July 27-28 and Aug. 3-4.

Uschkrat, Betsy
Betsy Uschkrat

LIU: Betsy, tell us tell us a little about your character, Adina.

BU: Adina is an intelligent young woman who won't admit she has feelings for a goofy guy named Nemorino. He is hopelessly enamored with only her, but she enjoys the chase of flirting with many men. Playing "hard to get" is her specialty.

LIU: What kind of message does The Elixir of Love have for contemporary audiences?

BU: A love story has great appeal, whether it was written 200 years ago or two years ago. The playfulness of youth and discovering true love is an endearing plot for even today's modern audiences. Elixir does send messages of appreciating others' affections and to not discount any possibility.

LIU: How did you juggle your duties as the reigning Miss Indiana with the demands of being a graduate voice student in the Jacobs School of Music?

BU: Being so busy this year as a full-time student and Miss Indiana has been difficult to handle, and yet a blessing. I am so honored to have music and service so abundantly at the center of my life this year. This year I have had huge musical opportunities, including singing my second French opera title role at IU, the Bloomington Pops Christmas Concert, singing the National Anthem at a Colts game, and representing IU in recital at the Kennedy Center. Through the many engagements I've had this year, I've learned to get as much information about the event as possible, prepare to the best of my ability, and then live in the moment and not worry about the details. My teachers and the entire school of music were very understanding this year, too, which helped made it possible.

LIU: You are originally from Texas. Having attended the Jacobs School of Music and been Miss Indiana, do you now feel like an honorary Hoosier?

BU: Yes! Absolutely. My theme song will forever be the IU fight song, "Indiana...Our Indiana."

Uschkrat, Betsy (02)
Betsy Uschkrat rehearses with other IU Bloomington students.

LIU: Tell us about your experience of studying at the Jacobs School of Music.

BU: I have studied with Costanza Cuccaro since August of 2005 for a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance, and the transformation that has taken place in my singing is amazing. Her exercises, interpretation and experience are superb and her guidance has made the difference in every aspect. I also admire her as a mentor and friend -- she devotes incredible amounts of time and energy to her students.

At IU, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by outstanding musicians. I count my blessings knowing that I am coached, directed and taught by some of the best in the world. This Elixir of Love production holds many new things for me: a new conductor, my first bel canto role, a new leading man and new director. This summer marks new journeys into my development as a musician.

LIU: What are your plans after you leave IU?

BU: I plan to audition for Young Artist programs across the country, in addition to entering as many vocal competitions as possible. This year, being so busy, the only singing competition I entered was Miss America! It was thrilling to sing in a house of 7,000 seats, but I didn't like being restricted to only two minutes. Now I have a chance to spread my wings!