top of page

Gaetano Donizetti

The Metropolitan Opera Presents:
Gaetano Donizetti -L'Elisir D'Amore

Donizetti, literally, turned out operas by the dozen. According to the latest county made by Gianandrea Gavazzeni in his new Italian biography, there were seventy altogether, and The Elixir of Lave was number forty. The composer was only thirty-four when he wrote it, and a letter quoted by Gavazzeni shows how quickly the composer had to work.

Addressing bis librettist, Felice Romani, he said:

"I am obliged to write an opera in fourteen days. I give you a week to do your share... But I warn you, we have a German prima donna, a tenor who stutters, a buffo with a voice like a goat, and a worthless French basso. Still, we must cover ourselves with glory.”

The Metropolitan Opera Presents: Gaetano Donizetti - L'Elisir D'Amore


(L'Elisir d'amore)


Opera in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti with
libretto in Italian by Felice Romani

Adina, a wealthy girl

Nemorino, a young peasant

Belcore, a sergeant

Dulcamara, a quack doctor
Gianetta, a peasant girl


Time: 19th century
Place: ltaly

First performance at Milan, May 12, 1832

Anna Netrebko (born 18 September 1971) is a Russian operatic soprano. She now holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenship and currently resides in Vienna, Austria, and in New York City.




Soprano. Wealthy young lady who owns a farm. She finds the courting of the peasant Nemorino rather slow and in order to tease him she flirts with the soldier Belcore. When she sees other girls running after Nemorino, she becomes more aware of his attractions and confesses that she loves him. Duet (with Nemorino): Chiedi all'aura lusinghiera (‘Ask of the welcoming breeze’); duets (with Dulcamara): Io son ricco, tu sei bella (‘I am rich and you are lovely’); Quanto amore (‘What great love’). Created (1832) by Sabina Heinefetter.

Song of the opera " L'elisir d'amore ", recorded in 2005. Led by Anna Netrebko (Adina), Rolando Villazón (Nemorino) and Ildebrando d'Arcangelo (Dulcamara).

Anna Netrebko as Adina



Tenor. A poor young peasant in love with the wealthy Adina, who seems to prefer Belcore. To help him woo her, he buys a love—potion (really wine) from the quack Dulcamara and becomes very drunk, which gives him false courage. When he inherits money from a rich uncle, all the girls throw themselves at him, making Adina admit her love for him. Aria: Una furtiva lagrima (‘One furtive tear’). Created (1832) by Giambattista Genero.

L'Elisir d'Amore: Act II Duet -- Matthew Polenzani & Anna Netrebko (Met Opera)

Anna Netrebko as Adina and Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino



Baritone. A sergeant who woos Adina until she agrees to marry him. However, at the wedding-feast she keeps postponing the signing of the contract, as she is really in love with the poor peasant Nemorino. Created (1832) by Henri-Bernard Dabadie.

L'Elisir d'Amore: Act I Excerpt -- Netrebko, Polenzani, Kwiecien (Met Opera)

Belcore and Adina (Mariusz Kwiecien as Belcore, Netrebko) 



Bass. A quack doctor. He sells a love potion to Nemorino to help him win Adina. The potion is in reality wine and Nemorino, under its influence, develops more courage. Adina learns the full story from Dulcamara and confesses her love for Nemorino. Aria: Uditi, udite, o rustici (‘Listen, listen, O villagers’). A celebrated Dulcamara, Sir Geraint Evans, chose this as his farewell role at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1984. Created (1832) by Giuseppe Frezzolini.

Udite, udita, o rustici (L'elisir d'amore) - Erwin Schrott 2002

Anna Netrebko stars as Adina with Ambrogio Maestri as Doctor Dulcamara in Donizetti's “L'Elisir d'Amore.



Soprano. A peasant girl who throws herself at Nemorino when he inherits money from a rich uncle, thus rousing Adina's jealousy. Creator (1832) not traced.

Ying Fang as Giannetta




Scene 1  The action takes place in an Italian village just about the time the opera was written—that is in the thirties of the last century. The heroine, Adina, is a wealthy young woman who owns several estates. On one of them there is a chorus of her friends when the scene opens. They sing a charming number, led by Adina's intimate, Gianetta. Meantime, Adina's hapless peasant lover, Nemorino, sings of his love in a sweet aria (Quanto e bella -"How beautiful she is").


Adina herself reads to the assemblage a version of the story of Tristan and Isolda. It tells how they were made to love each other through a magical elixir, and Nemorino, in an aside, wishes be had some of that magical drink.

Now—enter the military. Sergeant Belcore, head of the lit tile garrison stationed in the village, blusteringly asks Adina to many him. The girl lightly but flirtatiously puts him off; and when everyone else has left, poor, stammering Nemorino presents his suit In a long duet Adina puts him off, too, for she is quite bored by Nemorino's pathetic lave-making.

Scene 2 takes us to the village square. Here assembled villagers are excited by the arrival of a magnificent coach bearing one Dr. Dulcamara, who introduces himself with a celebrated comic aria (Udite, udite). He is a medical quack—the Italian equivalent of the Wild West's snake-oil salesman. And what has he to sell? Why, a magical elixir. Drink it, and you become invincible in lovel Almost everyone becomes a customer at a very reasonable price, but (he cunning Nemorino stays on and privately asks for Isolda's love potion. At a much higher price—Nemorino's last gold piece, in fact—he gets it It is, of course, just like all the other bottles—that is, ordinary Bordeaux wine. But Nemorino takes a mighty dose of it, becomes slightly tipsy, and so, quite sure of himself now, acts in a very offhand manner with Adina. This new attitude piques the girl, and she immediately promises to marry Nemorino’s rival, Sergeant Belcore.

Poor Nemorinol Dulcamara had told him the elixir takes twenty-four hours to work, but Adina has promised to marry Belcore that very night, for lie Sergeant is ordered away for the next day. As everyone is invited to the wedding, and Nemorino begs—in vain—to have it put off for a day, Act I comes to a close on a concerted number.


Scene 1 begins just a few hours after Act I ends. All the villagers are gathered at Adina's house to help prepare for her wedding to Sergeant Belcore. Dr. Dulcamara takes a leading part: together with Adina, he reads off a brand new barcarolle - a very pretty duet beginning Io son ricco e tu sei bella—“I am rich and you are pretty." When the arrival of the notary is announced, the distracted lover Nemorino consults Di. Dulcamara about his predicament. Naturally, the quack recommends another bottle of his elixir—one that will work in half an hour. Unfortunately Nemorino has no more money, and so, when the doctor leaves him, he consults his rival, Sergeant Belcore. Belcore advises enlistment in the Army, for there is a bonus of twenty scudi paid to all recruits. In an amusing duet the agreement is made, and Nemorino gets his bonus.

Scene 2  As everything should in the happy world of musical comedy, things turn out well in the final scene, which takes place the same evening. We learn, in the opening chatter-chorus for girls alone, that Nemorino has just inherited a fortune from an uncle. Nemorino himself does not know about it yet; and when he comes in—now more self-confident than ever through drinking the second dose of elixir—all the girls make love to him. He acts as though completely unimpressed by the attentions, even or his beloved Adina; and she, for her part, is quite upset by this turn of events. Dx. Dulcamara, seeing a chance for a new customer, offers Adina some of his elixir. In a delightful duet, she explains that she herself possesses a better elixir than his—to wit, a compound of various feminine wiles.


It is at this point that Nemorino, finding himself alone, sings the most famous aria in the opera (Una furtiva lagrima - "Down her soft cheek a pearly tear"). He has noticed Adina’s unhappiness, and lie insists, in the aria,that he would gladly die to be permitted to comfort her. Nevertheless, when Adina approaches him, he maintains his attitude of indifference. Even when she tells him that she has bought his enlistment papers back from Belcore, he does not soften. Finally she breaks down and confesses that she loves him. The duet ends in impassioned happiness, of course; and now the opera draws quickly to a close. Belcore receives the news philosophically: there are plenty of other conquests available for a handsome soldier, he says. The news of Nemorino's new-found wealth is shared with everyone, and good old Dr. Dulcamara takes credit for the happy outcome by claiming that the lovers were brought together through his chemical researches. As the opera closes, everyone is buying one more bottle of his celebrated Еlixir of Love.

bottom of page