The Elixir of Love


Act I

Nemorino, a shy and simple villager, is madly in love with Adina, the richest, most beautiful girl in the village. He mopes about because his case seems hopeless, especially when the dashing Sergeant Belcore arrives with an aggressive gallantry that is hard to resist. Adina is charmed and enjoys the attention but she is too sharp to be swept off her feet. Nemorino tries to compete but only manages to make himself a nuisance by his constant attempts to capture the girl’s attention. Adina admits that he is modest and honest but what good is that? Dr. Dulcamara sweeps onto the scene with cure-all lotions and potions (of pure snake-oil) and the village is abuzz. Nemorino heard Adina reading the story of Queen Isolde’s fabled love potion and seeks out Dulcamara with his last coin in hand. “But of course!”, the doctor has that magic potion and guarantees Nemorino that it will take effect the very next day (after Dulcamaro leaves town). Nemorino starts the treatment, swigging on cheap wine that he thinks is a magic love potion. As he gets tipsy, his shyness evaporates and his confidence makes him bold to ignore Adina. After all, he has to wait until the next day for the full effect. Annoyed by his indifference, Adina tries to provoke him by promising to marry Belcore “in six days”. Nemorino just laughs but his diffidence becomes desperation when Belcore receives orders that require the wedding to be moved up – to today.

Act II

The wedding banquet is set and the Notary arrives but Adina delays signing the contract because Nemorino isn’t there and without him, the ruse is pointless. He is out looking for money to buy more elixir in the hope of speeding up its effect. He needs twenty scudi to buy the potion and none other than his nemesis, Sgt. Belcore, offers him that exact amount as an enlistment bonus. The hapless Nemorino takes another deep drink and signs up, not pausing to consider that the elixir will do him no good when the army sends him away from his beloved. Meanwhile, everyone else in the village has heard the news that Nemorino’s wealthy uncle has died and left him a small fortune. Everyone – especially the women – are attentive to Nemorino and treat him with great respect. He, of course, thinks the elixir is working! While this is playing out, Adina has gotten the truth out of Dulcamara who admits that her “potion” is more potent than anything he can concoct. Adina is won over by Nemorino’s constant and gentle heart. She buys back his enlistment contract. The whole village celebrates the happy couple’s engagement while sending Dulcamara off with great fanfare. The elixir has done its work.