The Elixir of Love
The Story
Scene 1
Nemorino, a shy and simple young farmer is in love with Adina, a wealthy country girl. But Adina is willful, and his offers of love are constantly rejected. Adina is seated apart from a group of harvesters, reading, and Nemorino wonders how he could possibly win her love since she is so wonderful and much better than him. She has just come across the legend of the potion which bound Tristan and Isolde with undying love and reads it aloud to amuse the others.
At this point a drum is heard, and a platoon of soldiers enters, headed by the dashing and bombastic Sergeant Belcore. Belcore at once begins to woo Adina, and in spite of his self-assurance and arrogance, she is flattered; however, to his hasty proposal of marriage she answers that she would like a little time to think it over. Nemorino, naturally, is very jealous and when everyone else leaves, he begs Adina to return his love, but in vain; she prefers to remain fancy free.
Scene 2
Dr. Dulcamara, a picturesque and loquacious quack, arrives on the village square, and, before the assembled villagers, he sings the praises of his wonderful remedy, guaranteed to cure all ills. The naive Nemorino is impressed and asks whether he also sells the love potion of Queen Isolde. Naturally Dulcamara obliges him, but warns him that the potion will take effect only after twenty-four hours -- which will give him enough time to leave the village -- and that no one must know about it. Nemorino is now so pleased and sure of himself that Adina is surprised to find him in a cheerful and confident mood; he assures her that his heart will be cured within one day. In a fit of pique, she then tells Belcore that she will marry him in six days' time. Nemorino is not worried; he knows that tomorrow she will fall at his feet. But a message reached Belcore with an order to leave the village in the morning, so Adina agrees to marry him that very day. Nemorino is now desperate, but his entreaties to Adina to postpone the wedding for just one day are all in vain. She invites everyone to the marriage feast, and they all mock the distraught Nemorino.
Scene 1
The marriage feast in anticipation of the wedding is in progress at Adina's farm and Dulcamara is among the guests. When the notary arrives, Adina hesitates to sign the marriage contract, as Nemorino is not there and her vengeance would not be complete without him. As the company goes off elsewhere, he enters and finding Dulcamara alone, asks for help. Dulcamara prescribes another dose of his remedy, but Nemorino has no more money. The doctor gives him a quarter of an hour to find it. Belcore now enters and persuades Nemorino to enlist in his platoon if he wants money, commenting to himself with glee that to enlist one's own rival is quite a clever stroke. Nemorino accepts in the hope of winning Adina's love before having to leave.
Scene 2
The news is spreading throughout the village that Nemorino's rich uncle has died, leaving him sole heir. All the village girls surround with attention the unwitting youth, who, in his simplicity, believes this to be the effect of the potion. Adina is astonished at his popularity, and so is Dulcamara, who tells her about the potion. She is deeply moved, especially when she hears that Nemorino has sold his freedom for her. She realizes that she is, in fact, in love with him. Nemorino notices that she is weakening and is delighted. When Adina comes back with the enlistment papers, which she has just bought from Belcore, she admits to Nemorino that she loves him; and when Dulcamara lets slip the news he has just heard about the legacy, Nemorino's happiness is complete. Dulcamara, of course, attributes all his fortune to his own magic elixir, and the villagers rush to buy it. Finally everyone except Belcore blesses him as he triumphantly leaves the village.
Synopsis credit: San Francisco Opera

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