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Theatre / L'elisir d'amore

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L'elisir d'amore (The Love Potion), an opera by Gaetano Donizetti, is one of the most popular comedies of the genre. It tells the story of poor peasant Nemorino, hopelessly in love with the beautiful landowner Adina, who teases him but doesn't reciprocate. With the arrival of pompous Sgt. Belcore who hastes to propose to Adina immediately, Nemorino frantically searches for a way to woo her before she can make up her mind. When Snake Oil Salesman "Doctor" Dulcamara arrives into town, Nemorino hastes to see if he sells the fabled love potion of Queen Isolde, about whom Adina read the peasants a story. Sensing the opportunity to make a quick buck, Dulcamara insists he's the elixir's main supplier, and sells Nemorino a bottle of cheap wine...


L'elisir d'amore contains examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Belcore's one crime is wooing Adina, really.
  • Badass Baritone: Belcore.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Nemorino, to a T. Alternate Character Interpretation may kick in when you realise that he's so desperately in love with Adina, he's perfectly willing to try and change her mind via a magic potion, thus basically forcing her to love him, even when she gently lets him down for what apparently isn't the first time.
  • Ethical Slut: Adina, to a point - we don't hear about her sexual exploits, but she mentions she has a new lover every day, basically. However, she tells Nemorino plainly and kindly she's not interested at the start and encourages him to seek another love.
  • Foreshadowing: In an early duet, Adina mentions that rather than wasting time pursuing her, Nemorino should go to town and see his gravely ill uncle. Guess who dies the next day and leaves Nemorino filthy rich?
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  • Gossipy Hens: Gianetta and the other village girls, who provide exposition about Nemorino's newly-gained wealth.
  • Happy Ending: Adina and Nemorino get together, Sgt. Belcore is content with finding other women in the world, and everyone happily waves off Dr. Dulcamara for his magical elixir of love
  • "I Am" Song: Quanto e bella, ironically more for Adina than for Nemorino, who's singing it - though it's clearly a somewhat biased impression of her, she's described as beautiful, studious, constantly reading, and Nemorino having no chance with her.
  • Idiot Ball: For reasons of exposition, Gianetta needs to tell the entire female population of the village that Nemorino is now rich. Had she not done so, the girls wouldn't have mobbed him, and she might have had a chance.
  • Idiot Hero: Nemorino
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: At the start of the wedding feast, Dr. Dulcamara asks Adina to sing a duet with him about a poor gondola girl who rejects the affections of a rich senator. This has no relevance to the plot, and doesn't even parallel Adina and Nemorino since neither know about his newfound wealth until after they've declared their love for each other,
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  • Love Potion: The title of the play (literally "The Elixir of Love")
  • Meaningful Name: Nemorino - 'little no one' and Sgt. Belcore - 'good heart'.
  • Pep Talk Duet: Adina's part in Per guarir da tal pazzia, where she encourages Nemorino to give up on the silliness of faithful love.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Aside from being a bit too sure of his ability to woo any woman, Belcore fits.
  • Pair the Spares: A number of productions show Gianetta and Sgt. Belcore showing interest in each other in the finale.
  • Romantic False Lead: Sgt. Belcore. Notably, only Nemorino really considers him as such - Adina clearly isn't interested.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Dr Dulcamara, to the core.
  • Tenor Boy: Nemorino
  • Tsundere: Adina might be an early, operatic version of this. Her merciless teasing of the hapless Nemorino is finally revealed to be a cover for the affection she feels for him. Adina even goes so far as to accept another man's marriage proposal just to annoy the poor boy. She doesn't admit her true feelings, even to herself, until she sees him surrounded by female admirers.


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