Elixir of Love
Music by Gaetano Donnizetti. Libretto by Felico Romani after Eugene Scribe
The action is set in and around Adina’s Diner
The townsfolk have gathered in Adina’s Diner. Nemorino, a young mechanic, is in love with Adina; she, however, is fickle and constantly spurns him. To amuse her customers, Adina reads aloud the story of Tristan and Isolde and the magic potion which bound them with undying love.
Sgt Belcore enters and immediately begins to woo Adina. Nemorino is dejected and jealous when Belcore makes a hasty proposal of marriage. But Adina is not won over by him and does not accept immediately. Nemorino presses his suit and begs Adina to return his love; she, however, prefers to remain independent.
The enigmatic Dr Dulcamara arrives in town and, addressing the crowd, describes the remarkable powers of his medicines. When Nemorino asks if he stocks Isolde’s love potion, Dulcamara is able to oblige him, but warns that the potion will only take effect after twenty-four hours – enough time for Dulcamara to leave town before the gullible Nemorino discovers him to be a fraud having sold Nemorino only a bottle of cheap booze.
The effects of Dulcamara’s potion make Nemorino cheerful and confident with Adina, who finds his indifference to her, after years of adoration, puzzling. In a fit of pique, she announces that she will marry Belcore in six days’ time. Nemorino remains unperturbed as he is confident that the elixir’s powers will mean that tomorrow she’ll find him irresistible.
New orders have come for Belcore and his men: they must leave the following morning. Adina, still angry at Nemorino’s apparent indifference, agrees to marry Belcore that very day. Nemorino tries to persuade her to wait just one more day, but his entreaties are in vain. Everyone is invited to the wedding feast and all mock Nemorino.
Interval of 20 minutes
The party to celebrate Adina’s and Belcore’s wedding is in full swing. The Justice of the Peace arrives, but Adina manages to delay the ceremony. The downcast Nemorino appeals to Dulcamara for more elixir, but Nemorino has no more money; he spent what little he had on the first bottle. Dulcamara offers to wait for while Nemorino raises the required sum. In desperation, Nemorino accepts Belcore’s invitation to enlist in return for twenty dollars – more than enough to buy another bottle of the elixir.
News is spreading that Nemorino’s rich uncle has died, leaving his nephew an immense fortune. Nemorino, however, remains ignorant of this development. When he appears all the girls surround Nemorino and pay him great attention, a response which he attributes to the effects of Dulcamara’s potion. Adina is astonished by Nemorino’s sudden popularity. Dulcamara tells her about the elixir, recounting the pitiable state which has reduced Nemorino to enlist in order to pay for a further dose. Adina is deeply moved and realizes that she does, after all, love Nemorino, who is delighted that she is weakening at last. Nemorino’s happiness is complete when Adina announces she has bought back his enlistment papers, and confesses her love for him. Dulcamara announces the news of Nemorino’s inheritance. Ever the opportunist, the doctor attributes all good fortune to his own magic elixir. He departs, leaving behind a community which will never be quite the same again.
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