L'elisir d'amoreGaetano Donizetti
Adina, a tenant farmer in a rather remote village, is young, rich – and well-read. She is greatly admired by Nemorino, a penniless worker. Adina reads the country folk a moving version of the story of Tristan and Isolde, which she, however,
finds rather amusing: Tristan, whom Isolde does not love, obtains a love potion from a miracle-monger. The magic potion enables him to win Isolde’s heart. Adina is glad that such potions no longer exist. Nemorino – who deeply loves her, although she does not accept him – listens attentively to the story. Sergeant Belcore and his soldiers march into the village and take up quarters there. Belcore behaves chivalrously towards Adina, but at the same time asks for her love. However, the capricious Adina is not to be so easily won. Nemorino finds an opportunity to reaffirm how dearly he loves Adina. She, however, rebuffs him, saying that she wishes to remain free and untied. The arrival of Dulcamara causes considerable excitement. He announces that he is a wonder doctor of great repute who has a remedy for every conceivable ailment. The country folk are taken in by his glib patter. Finally, Nemorino asks the charlatan whether he also has a love potion. Dulcamara immediately takes
advantage of the situation and sells the grateful Nemorino the coveted potion for all the money he has. Dulcamara takes the precaution of saying that the potion will only take effect after 24 hours; what he has sold the unsuspecting Nemorino is in fact nothing more than a bottle of Bordeaux wine. Nemorino immediately drinks some of it, and notices a remarkable improvement in his mood. He pretends to be impartial to Adina: let her now court him! Adina is not happy with this sudden change of heart either. She wants to find out whether Nemorino’s feeling for her have actually grown cold, and at once declares her intention of marrying Belcore, and of doing so that very day, as the sergeant will have to move on next morning. Nemorino, at first confident of success thanks to his magic potion, is now completely flabbergasted. This was not the effect he had expected from the love potion. If only he can win just one more day ...
In the meantime, preparations for the wedding are in full swing. Dulcamara plays an improvised Venetian love scene with Adina. The notary appears with the marriage contract, but Adina says she will sign it later. Nemorino asks Dulcamara for a second bottle of the magic elixir. This can naturally be arranged – if Nemorino can pay for it. The latter, however, does
not have a single penny left to his name. In his despair he lets Belcore enlist him as a soldier, and immediately buys the second bottle with the bounty which he receives.
The supposed love potion takes effect unexpectedly rapidly: Nemorino is at once surrounded by a crowd of girls. He is not particularly surprised at this, as he has already done full justice to his elixir. However, he is completely unaware of the real reason for this sudden display of affection. Giannetta has divulged some news that until now has been a closely kept secret: Nemorino’s
wealthy uncle has died, leaving Nemorino his sole heir. Nemorino takes great delight in the company of the girls. He ignores Adina completely, which arouses her jealousy. From Dulcamara she learns why Nemorino has signed up. The charlatan now offers her the love potion. However, she refuses it, as she knows a better means of winning Nemorino, of whom she is very fond after all: her own eyes. Nemorino believes he has seen a secret tear in Adina’s eyes. Does she love him after all? After his beautiful romance, his suspicions are confirmed by Adina herself: she confesses her love for him, and gives him back his enlistment
papers. She has paid the bounty back to Belcore and bought Nemorino free. Belcore finds his bride in the arms of another man. Although he is disappointed, he accepts the situation with good humour; after all, there will always be plenty of girls for a soldier like him! Dulcamara takes advantage of the situation. He boasts that it is thanks to his magic potion that Nemorino has not
only found love, but also inherited a fortune.