The Elixir of Love: A melodramma giocoso by Gaetano Donizetti
L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) is a melodramma giocoso (opera buffa) in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto and the opera premiered on 12 May 1832 at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan.
Written in a six-week period, L'elisir d'amore is today one of the most frequently performed of all Donizetti's operas which contains the popular tenor aria "Una furtiva lagrima", a romanzo that has a considerable performance history in the concert hall. Just think that when Enrico Caruso played in the role of Nemorino for the first time in February 1901 at La Scala with the conductor Arturo Toscanini, the audience reception caused Caruso and the orchestra to repeat "Una furtiva lagrima" three times.
We retrace the plot of this opera. Nemorino, a poor peasant, is in love with Adina, a beautiful landowner, who torments him with her indifference. When Nemorino hears Adina reading to her workers the story of Tristan and Isolde, he is convinced that a magic potion will help him to gain Adina's love.
Sergeant Belcore arrives with his regiment of soldiers. He flirts with the girls and then declares his passion for Adina, asking her to marry him. She is flattered but refuses the offer. The farmhands return to work, and Nemorino finds the courage to declare his love for Adina. She laughs at him, telling him she wants a different lover every day and that Nemorino would do well to follow her example. Dr. Dulcamara arrives with a supply of medicine for sale. Nemorino asks him if he knows of the magic elixir of love with which Tristan won Isolde. Taking advantage of his commercial talent, Dulcamara cheats Nemorino and sells him a simple bottle of Bordeaux wine. The effect of the alcohol is immediate. Certain that he will win Adina's love, Nemorino begins to treat her indifferently. To get even, Adina begins to flirt with Belcore and finally agrees to marry him. When orders arrive calling for Belcore to report to duty at once, he and Adina decide to wed that very evening.
Annoyed because Nemorino has not attended the party preceding her marriage, Adina delays signing the marriage contract. Nemorino enters and asks the doctor's help. He says Nemorino must double the amount of potion and gives him another bottle of wine. In order to obtain the money to pay for the elixir, Nemorino joins Belcore's regiment and receives an enlistment bonus. The village girls learn that Nemorino's rich uncle has died, leaving the lad a large inheritance. Nemorino swaggers in, reeling from the double dose of elixir. The girls crowd around him, which Nemorino, unaware of his inheritance, credits to Dulcamara's potion. Adina sees Nemorino with the girls and becomes jealous. She is now determined to win him for herself. Nemorino returns, sad at the the thought of leaving his village and Adina for the army. Adina joins him and tells him that she has bought back his enlistment papers so that they can be married. All join in praising Dulcamara and his magic elixir.