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Love Potion / Theatre

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  • Donizetti's opera L'Elisir D'Amore ("The Elixir of Love") subverts this: unbeknownst to Nemorino, the elixir of the title turns out to be simply wine that he bought off a Snake Oil Salesman. He drinks it to try to win over his beloved Adina, and while this is going on, the ladies of the village (except Adina) learn that Nemorino's uncle passed away and left him a substantial inheritance. In other words, any woman who marries him will be set for life. So all the women swarm him trying to win his hand in marriage, making him think the potion worked beyond his wildest dreams. Adina sees all this and realizes she loves him after all. She speaks to the salesman to learn more about the elixir, but when he offers to sell it to her, she turns it down in favor of wooing Nemorino the old-fashioned way: with her wits and sensuality.
  • William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream has, as its central plot, two pairs of lovers accidentally mis-matched when the Fairy King Oberon tries the "fall in love with the first person you see" approach to get them to fall in love with the "right" people via a magical flower, only for Puck to muck it up by dosing the wrong Athenian. Hilarity Ensues. Oberon also uses the flower in a plot to get revenge on his wife - by having her fall in love with a hapless peasant man with the head of a donkey.
    • And in the very odd (and possibly disturbing) case of one of these potions going right, at the end of the play, Demetrius and Lysander, who have been pursuing Hermia, have each been doused with a love potion to make them adore Helena. Lysander is given the antidote, but Demetrius (who, it is implied, began seeing Helena first before the events of the play) awakes, still under the effect of the potion, where he will probably remain for life.
    • Demetrius hated, or at least ignored Helena prior to the love potion. The point was that both couples were happy at the end, though there are definite Unfortunate Implications in that nobody has any problem with it.
      • Depending on the company performing it, Demetrius's "hate" of Helena is often played as more a school-ground crush sort of thing, where he's mean to her because he likes her... And nobody has a problem with it because none of the human characters have any idea it happened. The lovers wake up and think it was a dream and accept the current state of relationship as the status quo.
      • Not that this excuses it, but Demetrius was courting Helena before he met Hermia, at which point he dropped Helena like a hot rock. Back in the day, one might have considered his inconstancy a character flaw which the potion corrected.
  • Sometimes a potion doesn't have to "make" someone fall in love with another, but instead just make them forget who they are and whom they may currently be in love with. In Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Siegfried is given an "Ale of Forgetfulness" by Hagen which makes him forget all about Brünnhilde, his beloved, or any other woman, and fall in love with Hagen's half-sister. The purpose of this is to ensure that: she will get married, Siegfried will retrieve a bride for his half-brother-in-law, and he will get the ring.
    • This later prompts Brünnhilde to enact a terrible revenge once she learns about the potion, so nothing good really comes out of using it.
  • Tristan und Isolde, on the other hand, does feature a love-potion, though it is implied that its effect is merely to fan their already smouldering passion into open flames.
    • In some mythological versions, it's entirely to blame for the entire plot: Tristan had no interest in Isolde, and the potion was for intended for her so she'd love her betrothed (Tristan's uncle). Tristan drinks it by accident, and, well...
  • This is the plot of The Sorcerer, one of the earlier Gilbert and Sullivan operas. One of the most blatantly trope-ish examples in that the story makes barely any attempt to pretend this could go well; the potion is purchased by an engaged couple with the intent of dosing their entire village. (It won't affect legally married couples, but the village does have a priest... and that's all in the intentional, best case scenario.)
  • As is par for the franchise, The Addams Family Musical takes this trope and turns it on its side. Potion that removes inhibitions towards an emotion, check. Taken by the wrong person and hilarity ensues? Check. Except, the emotion in question is rage, not lust. Wednesday has grown up and found herself a "normal" boy, with equally normal parents. Pugsley can't stand this, so tries to dose her with said potion in hopes she'll make a fool of herself in front of the boy's parents. The boyfriend's mother—a Stepford Smiler who Rhymes on a Dime when we meet her—ends up with it, and rages at her husband for being so BORING! This reminds hubby that yes, he used to be a wild child too, and the two proceed to become much more Addams-like. Through this, the two rekindle the passions of their youthful courtship and become far more acceptable as in-laws to the Addams, so in a way it is, in the end, a love potion.