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Love potions are booming in the literature: Just think of the medieval history of Tristan and Isolde, which - more than 30 years before Wagner's musical drama - has also found its way into Donizetti's opera.

L’elisir d’amore
L’elisir d’amore © Tatjana Dachsel

The somewhat simple-minded Nemorino brings this legend to accelerate the approach to adored Adina also by means of a magic potion that the charlatan Dulcamara offers him.

But similar to Tristan and Isolde the intake does not lead to the actual target. For when Nemorino drunk on Adina meets - the intoxicating effect of the drink is namely due to its high percentages - this turns away annoyed and decides without further ado to marry the dashing soldier Belcore.

It takes a second bottle of "love potion" and extensive help from Godfather chance, so that Nemorino and Adina still find each other and in the end the whole village community is completely convinced of the effect of the elixir. With the delicious naivety of the characters take Donizetti and his librettist Felice Romani in a lovingly-affectionate manner and credulity on the shovel. The music, which should have come into being within only three weeks, admits to the protagonists also touching, intimate moments, not only in the famous aria "Una furtiva lagrima".

The inexhaustible wealth of melodies makes "L'elisir d'amore" one of Donizetti's most popular stage works, which now returns to the state opera repertoire after a long break.
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ACT ONE

The young and naive peasant Nemorino loves Adina, though she has nothing but scorn for him. Adina reads the tale of Tristan and Isolde to the villagers. This gives Nemorino the idea of winning Adina’s love by means of a magic potion.

The sergeant Belcore enters with his soldiers. He pays court to Adina, who is impressed. Nemorino pleads with Adina, but she resists his advances again.

A trumpeter announces the arrival of Dulcamara. This traveling doctor is hawking a remedy for all ills. Nemorino asks him for Isolde’s love potion. Dulcamara presents a bottle of Bordeaux, claiming that it is the very potion, and sells it to him, advising him that it will take effect in 24 hours.

Nemorino hastily drinks the draught. The alcohol and the prospect of success bestow unwonted self-confidence on Nemorino. Adina is annoyed by his uncustomary high spirits and out of spite she gives her consent to Belcore’s suit.

News is brought of the imminent departure of the troops. As a result, the wedding is scheduled for the evening. Nemorino is desperate because the potion will not have time to take effect. He begs Adina to put the wedding off. His peculiar behaviour only incites her to make fun of him even more.

ACT TWO

The pre-nuptial feast is in progress. Belcore insists that the marriage contract should be signed and the marriage consummated. Adina, however, wants Nemorino to be present before she signs.

Nemorino begs Dulcamara for help. He recommends buying another bottle of the so-called love potion, but Nemorino does not have enough money. In desperation he allows Belcore to enlist him as a soldier. With the recruitment pay he buys a second bottle of Bordeaux from Dulcamara.

Giannetta and the village girls discover that Nemorino has been bequeathed a fortune, although he is not yet aware of this himself. He notices that women are suddenly attracted to him in great numbers – the love potion must be working!

Dulcamara and Adina see Nemorino amid a throng of girls. Adina is seized by jealousy, and realises that in fact she loves Nemorino. Dulcamara tells her about the love potion and suggests she buy a bottle herself. Adina feels she can trust to her own charms and has no need of magic potions. A tear in Adina’s eye reveals to Nemorino that at last his love is requited.

Adina has bought back his enlistment papers from Belcore, but still does not want to own up to her feelings for Nemorino. Only when Nemorino threatens to enlist nevertheless does Adina confess her love for him.

Belcore and the soldiers depart. Thanks to Nemorino’s success with Adina, Dulcamara is doing the briskest trade of his life with his elixir of love.





Age recommendation: as of 10 years
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