When to see it
Nemorino, a naive village boy, is besotted with Adina, a farm owner. She rejects his declarations of love. Fortunately, Doctor Dulcamara is on hand with a 'love potion' to help him win her heart.
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L'elisir d'amore is one of the most frequently performed of all Donizetti's operas. It combines a touching love story and hilarious comedy with beautiful music, including the much-loved aria 'Una furtiva lagrima'. The opera’s premiere in Milan in 1832 was a triumph and secured Donizetti's place as one of the leading Italian opera composers of his day.
The Royal Opera's charming production is set in the sun-drenched countryside of 1950s Italy, complete with haystacks, Vespas and even a stray dog. It is injected with lively, visual humour, from Nemorino's tipsy clowning to Dulcamara's lumbering truck from which he sells his quack remedies. Donizetti deftly brings his characters alive with a sparkling score: Nemorino's love for Adina is expressed through lyrical arias; Adina’s animated, flamboyant style softens as her feelings towards Nemorino begin to change – and all the while Dulcamara endlessly chatters away with irrepressible self-belief.
News and features
19 November 2014
What did you think of Laurent Pelly's production of Donizetti's comedy?
14 November 2014
Donizetti's loveable rogue Dulcamara is a cad and a swindler, but armed with a host of great tunes and the gift of the gab, he's irresistible.
13 November 2014
Laurent Pelly’s Royal Opera production stars Bryn Terfel, Vittorio Grigolo and Lucy Crowe.
11 November 2014
The Italian tenor will be signing copies of his latest CD, The Romantic Hero.
Young Artist Profile: Australian soprano Kiandra Howarth on following in Joan Sutherland’s footsteps6 November 2014
Sixty-two years after La Stupenda’s Covent Garden debut, another young soprano from Down Under is in London in search of operatic stardom.
'Doctor, doctor, I'm hopelessly in love': A psychologist gives advice to L'elisir d'amore's lovesick suitor5 November 2014
Nemorino goes to Dr Dulcamara to get an elixir of love, but modern psychology might have some more reliable methods.
L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) is a comic opera (melodramma giocoso) in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto, after Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's Le philtre (1831).Written in haste in a six-week period, L'elisir d'amore was the most often performed opera in Italy between 1838 and 1848 and it has remained continually in the international opera repertory. Today it is one of the most frequently performed of all Donizetti's operas: it appears as number 13 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide in the five seasons between 2008 and 2013. There are a large number of recordings. It contains the popular tenor aria "Una furtiva lagrima," a romanza that has a considerable performance history in the concert hall.Donizetti insisted on a number of changes from the original Scribe libretto. The most well known of these was the insertion of "Una furtiva lagrima", others are the duet between Adina and Nemorino in the first act, "Chiedi all'aura lusinghiera", and the rewritten lyrics to "Io son ricco e tu sei bella" in the final scene of the opera, where this duet, originally a song written by Dulcamara for the marriage of Adina and Belcore, reoccurs as a Dulcamara solo with scabrous lyrics, becoming the de facto final aria—a feature of many Donizetti operas.In general, under Donizetti's hands, the subject became more romantic than in the Auber version: L'elisir d'amore features three big duets between the tenor and soprano. There is also personal history in this opera. Donizetti's military service was bought by a rich woman, so that, unlike his brother Giuseppe (also a well known composer) he did not have to serve in the Austrian army.