DONIZETTI: L’elisir d’amore

Music composed by Gaetano Donizetti. Libretto by Felice Romani derived
from Le philtre (1831) by Daniel-FranÁois-Esprit Auber.

First Performance: 12 May 1832, Teatro della Canobbiana,

Principal Characters:
Nemorino a simple peasant Tenor
Adina, a wealthy landowner Soprano
Belcore, a sergeant Baritone
Dr. Dulcamara, an itinerant physician Bass
Giannetta, a peasant girl Soprano

Setting: A village.


Act I

Scene 1

Nemorino, whose name accurately describes him as a“little
nobody,” is smitten with the wealthy Adina, but can’t inspire
love in her heart. Nemorino sees Adina reading a book in the village square
and wonders how a fool like him could possibly win her love. Everyone begs
Adina to tell the story, so she reads the tale of Tristan, who bought a love
potion from a magician in order to win the heard-hearted Isolde. If only they
knew how to get the recipe!

A drum roll signals the arrival of a platoon of soldiers headed by
handsome Sergeant Belcore. Arrogantly likening himself to Paris wooing a
goddess, Belcore immediately proposes to Adina, much to Nemorino’s
dismay. But when Adina says she needs time to think it over, Nemorino seizes
the moment and declares his undying love for her once again. Irritated, Adina
declares that she is capricious and fickleóhe should look for love

Scene 2

Dr. Dulcamara, a fast-talking quack, arrives and sings the praises of his
amazing elixir, guaranteed to cure all diseasesóand even chase away mice
and bugs! Nemorino, who falls for the con like everybody else, asks if
Dulcamara carries Isolde’s love potion. Dulcamara gives Nemorino a
bottle of Bordeaux, warning him that it will only take effect after
twenty-four hours (giving Dulcamara time to get away) and that he must keep
it a secret. Nemorino drinks enough to get tipsy, so when Adina comes by he
is so full of confidence that he pretends to ignore her. Aggravated to find
her swain so oblivious, she promises to marry Belcore in six days. Nemorino
isn’t worried because the elixir will be in effect the next day. But
Belcore receives orders to leave the village in the morning, so Adina agrees
to marry him immediately. Now that Nemorino is really desperate, Adina enjoys
his torment. She invites everyone to the marriage feast, and they all mock
the dunce who thought he could defeat the dashing Belcore.

Act II

Scene 1

While they’re waiting for the notary to arrive at the wedding, Dr.
Dulcamara entertains everyone with a comic song. Adina, however, hesitates to
continue because Nemorino isn’t thereóshe wants to complete her
revenge. After the company goes off for the wedding toast, Nemorino sneaks in
and begs Dulcamara for help. Always obliging, he prescribes another dose, but
Nemorino is broke. Belcore finds Nemorino alone and talks him into signing
upówhat a victory to enlist your own rival! Nemorino accepts, hoping the
elixir will work before he leaves with the soldiers.

Scene 2

Rumor has it that Nemorino’s uncle has died, leaving him heir to a
fortune. All the girls flirt with Nemorino, who doesn’t know about the
inheritance and thinks the potion is finally working. Adina is astonished at
his popularity and realizes that she is jealous. When Dulcamara brags that it
was his elixir that worked the miracle, Adina also learns that Nemorino has
sold his freedom for her. She realizes that she is in love with him, and
Nemorino is delighted to see her shed a tear on his behalf. Adina takes
action, buying back the enlistment papers from Belcore and admitting to
Nemorino that she loves him. When Dulcamara tells everyone about
Nemorino’s inheritance, Dulcamara claims the creditóhis elixir is so
powerful, it can make rich men out of poor ones! As he leaves town in
triumph, everyone wishes him wellóexcept Belcore.

[Synopsis Source: Pittsburgh

here for the complete libretto.

image_description=Luciano Pavarotti as Nemorino
first_audio_name=Gaetano Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore
WinAMP, VLC or iTunes
product_title=Gaetano Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore
product_by=Nemorino: Luciano Pavarotti
Adina: Mirella Freni
Belcore: Leo Nucci
Dulcamara: Paolo Montarsolo
Giannetta: Eugenia Ratti
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Reynold Giovaninetti (cond.)
Live performance, 13 February 1979, La Scala, Milan