Opera in two acts
Libretto by F. Romani
Belcore, a sergeant
Dulcamara, an iterant medicine man
Gianetta, Adina's friend
Peasants, soldiers, musicians
Nemorino, a young peasant, is in love with Adina. She is attractive, and besides that – which Nemorino is fully convinced of – she is uncommonly smart and well read. And as for Adina? She might not be entirely indifferent to the charming shy lad. However, she only treats him with mockery and derision, as she does with all her other suitors.
How can he win her over? Nemorino can think of nothing else. He learns of a magic potion from the story of Tristan an Isolde, which Adina reads to the peasants. “The moment he drank the potion,” – he hears – “Isolde fell in love with him”. All the girls want the magic potion, but Nemorino wants it more than anyone else. He decides to find it at all costs.
A drumbeat is heard – soldiers under the command of sergeant Belcore are entering the village. The attention of the brave commander is immediately drawn to the pretty and lively Adina. He presents her with a bouquet of flowers, throwing Nemorino into throes of jealousy.
Belcore does not need to mull the matter over: he wants Adina to choose a wedding day! But the girl is not impressed with the sergeant’s self-confidence. She refuses his courting. Nemorino envies Adina’s courage – if only he could become as confident and bold! The peasants mock the unlucky lover.
Adina invites the soldiers and their commander to her farm. There they can rest and recharge. As for Nemorino, shouldn’t he go to the city – laughs the girl. They say his uncle is on his deathbed, he should take care not to lose his inheritance… But Adina’s heart gradually softens. Nemorino is unpretentious and good... But what can you do – she is so air-headed. She might like something today, and hate it tomorrow. The poor young man shouldn’t torture himself with love and he is better off forgetting her. Alas, the poor Nemorino is incapable of following good advice…
Unexpectedly, fortune smiles down on him. The whole village is abuzz with the appearance of a well-dressed man. The stranger is an itinerant medicine man named Dulcamara. The enterprising quack glibly advertises his skill in healing all sorts of ailments. You can search the whole universe – he assures – and fail to find a more skilled doctor. Moreover, he brings more than just medicine. In his possession is the rarest potion – a love elixir. And it is very reasonably priced.
The mixture sells very quickly. The unfortunate Nemorino too seeks the medicine man’s help. He needs the potion that has “charmed Isolde”. Without batting an eyelid, Dulcamara hands him a bottle of regular wine, and warns him that the “magic elixir” must be consumed only the next day. By that time, the swindler plans to be far away from this place.
The unsuspecting youth doesn’t know how to thank his saviour. He is too impatient, and he fails to wait a full day before drinking the contents of the bottle. To Nemorino’s delight, the “elixir” takes effect immediately… Surprised, Adina sees a change in Nemorino’s attitude. He is suddenly becomes cheerful, jokes and laughs, swings his arms. What has happened to him? He doesn’t even look her way. He publicly announces that by tomorrow morning he will be rid of his love… The arrival of the brave sergeant gives an idea of revenge to Adina. She promises to marry Belcore. However, he might have to wait, just a little. Five days, at most…
Unexpectedly, the sergeant receives orders to set out of the village come next morning. Chagrined by Nemorino’s indifference, Adina vows her faithfulness to the military man. And what is more, she agrees to celebrate their wedding on the same day. Nemorino sobers up immediately. Realising that he will lose his beloved forever, the wretched youth begs her to postpone the wedding, at least until tomorrow. He must have lost his mind, - laughs Adina, thinking that she can change her mind… The happy sergeant invites everyone present to the wedding.
Adina’s courtyard is full of guests. Conspicuous among the crowd is Dulcamara. Giving his compliments to the bride and groom, he offers Adina to sing a song with him. She readily agrees. By golly, - the sergeant is baffled, - these women are impossible to understand. First, Adina wanted to hasten the wedding, now she is in no hurry to perform the nuptials.
Nemorino has his own concerns. He needs money urgently. Without it he cannot get the potion that will save him. Time is ticking away. Very soon, she will become the wife of this braggart. Belcore promises to find him money. If Nemorino joins the ranks of his soldiers, he will receive twenty crowns. That way, Belcore will be rid of the rival.
Nonetheless, the decision is made. With the stroke of a pen Nemorino is enlisted. He is a soldier now. But his thoughts are far from his duties. Clutching the precious coins he goes to look for Dulcamara.
All at once, a rumour spreads around the village: Nemorino’s uncle has passed away in Milan, leaving his fortune to the young man.
However, Nemorino, who has purchased a second bottle of the “love potion” from Dulcamara, is not aware of the news. Dulcamara promises that this time the potion is sure to work, and the young man is full of hope. Indeed, the first girl he meets on his way – Gianetta – pays him a lot of attention. Surely, now that he is a rich bachelor… Nemorino revels in the attention and compliments he receives. As for the unfaithful Adina – he prefers not to pay her any attention…
Dulcamara is astounded. Looks like the contents of the bottle really were magical. Would Adina like to try some of the miraculous elixir? - He offers. But the girl refuses, trusting the power of her feelings: she doesn’t need a sorcerer’s help. She beckons Nemorino and hands him his recruitment note: she has bought it back from the sergeant and the young man is free. Nemorino is immensely happy to hear that the proud and beautiful girl loves him and is ready to be his bride. Here’s some more wonderful news: he is now the owner of a big fortune.
Sergeant Belcore does not mourn for very long – there are many other women in the world… What about Dulcamara? How does this story end for him? Rather well, indeed: now everyone believes that his “elixir of love” is responsible for the young lovers’ happiness and his business is bound to improve.