Refreshing, whimsical, pleasant: this is the Elisir d’amore (the Elixir of love) directed by Pier Francesco Maestrini with sets by Juan Guillermo Nova, which highlights the comical and surreal aspects, transforming the story of Nemorino, Adina and Dulcamara into a 1970s American story. The peasants from the libretto are Rednecks, poor Nemorino is a youngster who goes around in a yellow chicken costume, advertising Adina’s road food, where she and Giannetta wear checked shirts knotted at the waist and short-cut jeans. To stir up provincial life, Dulcamara arrives in a red 1960s Buick with soft suspension: a seasoned and friendly rascal, chubby in a white suit and fat cigar, he is the typical door-to-door salesman, while the uptight Belcore is on horseback, a blend of a stereotypical fat Irish policeman and a training sergeant in the Marines, with a decisive goatee and Ray-Bans. The characterisations of the cast render the opera highly enjoyable, very funny, and easily and pleasantly understood by all.
An opera in two acts
Libretto by Felice Romani
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
First performed: 12 May 1832 at the Teatro della Cannobiana, Milan
Exhausted by working the fields, the harvesters and the peasant Giannetta rest at the entrance to Adina’s farm; the latter is reading to one side while the shy Nemorino, who is in love with her, watches from afar. A drum roll announces the arrival of a squadron of soldiers captained by Belcore, a sergeant who is so bold he immediately asks for the hand of Adina. The girl plays for time and tells Nemorino, who once again declares all his love, that she is too fickle to be tied to just one man. A short while later, Doctor Dulcamara arrives in the village, selling a miraculous elixir which can heal any illness. The gullible Nemorino takes this opportunity to ask for a potion which would win him the love of Adina, but Dulcamara, who in reality is a charlatan, sells him a simple bordeaux, promising him the most amazing of effects after just one day. Having drunk the wine, and sure of his success, Nemorino begins to treat Adina in a condescending manner. The young woman, irritated by this new behaviour, decides to marry Belcore that same evening. Nemorino, desperate, pleads uselessly for his loved one to postpone the wedding to the next day, when the elixir will finally take effect.
At the farm, celebrations are under way for the wedding. Nemorino, hoping to accelerate the effects of the elixir, wants to buy another bottle: as he doesn't have the money, he is forced to accept the advice which Belcore wastes no time in giving: sign up as a soldier and earn twenty escudos. In the meantime, the peasant women, hearing of the death of Nemorino’s uncle and the immense fortune bequeathed to his nephew, begin to court the boy, rousing Adina’s jealousy. Finally the young woman realises she is in love with Nemorino and, after having liquidated the conscription contract, declares her love. Belcore therefore has no choice but to continue his journey with his garrison, while Dulcamara attributes the happy ending to the formidable effects of his elixir.