Opera Scotland

Elixir of Love L'Elisir d'Amore; The Love Potion

Gaetano Donizetti (born Bergamo, 29 November 1797; died Bergamo, 8 April 1848)

Felice Romani.

French opera text Le philtre (1831) by Eugene Scribe, not in itself original.

First performance: Milan (Teatro della Canobbiana), 12 May 1832.
First UK performance: London (Lyceum Theatre), 10 December 1836.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Theatre Royal) 11 May 1838
Scottish Opera première: To be confirmed.

Donizetti came from a poor background but his musical talent was recognised early. While Rossini was still active, until 1829, Donizetti maintained a busy career touring Italy as a jobbing opera composer. His first international success came in 1830 with Anna Bolena, by which time he had composed nearly half his output of around seventy works. His operas were mostly romantic tragedies, but he had great success with a small number of comic pieces. L’elisir d’amore has a winning combination of humour and sentiment, and Nemorino is a part which tenors have always loved to perform.

By the end of the 19th century he had fallen out of fashion, and L’elisir was one of a handful of works to receive occasional revivals. In the last fifty years his genius has begun to be recognised. Those pieces which had survived grudgingly are now played complete instead of with the large cuts which had become common and made it impossible to appreciate his skill. Many of his operas are now performed regularly.

Nemorino, a young peasant farmer (tenor)
Adina, a wealthy landowner (soprano)
Belcore, a recruiting sergeant (baritone)
Dulcamara, a travelling salesman (bass)
Giannetta, a village girl (soprano)

Plot Summary
The setting is a farming community in the early 19th century, showing the chaos caused by the arrival of two incomers, a travelling “quack” selling medicines of dubious quality, and an army platoon led by a sergeant on the lookout for recruits.

Nemorino loves Adina, but is ignored by her. He overhears her reading aloud the story of Tristan and Isolda, which she thinks is silly. However when Dulcamara arrives Nemorino is easily persuaded to buy a bottle of wine mis-sold as a love potion. Not understanding that Adina has to drink it in order for it to have effect, he is disappointed by the result, and drinks it all himself.

Meanwhile Belcore and his army platoon arrive, and he succeeds in courting Adina. Nemorino enlists in despair. Adina finally realises she loves him when she sees the village girls fawning on him. They have heard that his uncle has died and that Nemorino is now wealthy. Adina persuades Belcore to release Nemorino from his contract and all ends happily as Belcore and Dulcamara move on to pastures new.

The Cast

 a wealthy farm owner
 a sergeant
 a quack doctor
 a peasant girl
 a young peasant

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