The Elixir of Love

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Act One
Our story is set in an Italian community centred around the local hotel, owned and run by Adina, a free-spirited and independent woman with a flair for reading, storytelling and role-play. Always daydreaming, with his head stuck in the clouds, and watching Adina from a distance is Nemorino (Quanto è bella, quanto è cara!). He is head over heels in love with her and wishes he had more courage and confidence to gain her favour. Also present are Adina’s friend and colleague Giannetta, and a group of hotel staff, trying to take care of the daily chores in the hotel, whilst managing a group of drunk guests. Giannetta asks Adina about the content of the book she is reading, whereupon Adina proceeds to read aloud for all present the story of the eternal love between Tristan and Isolde, who fell for each other after drinking the magic elixir of love (Della crudele Isotta il bel Tristano ardea!). Nemorino is most inspired by the story.

 

Then ensues a sudden drumroll sound, announcing the arrival of a company of soldiers commanded by Sergeant Belcore. The bragging and self-important Belcore immediately starts to court Adina (Come Paride vezzoso), eventually even going so far as to propose to her. Not impressed by the vain man, Adina turns him down. Everybody proceeds with their daily tasks, which allows Nemorino a private moment with Adina. He reveals his tender and loving feelings to her (Un parola, o Adina). Unable to reciprocate his feelings, Adina praises him for his good character and suggests that he go to town to take care of his ailing uncle. When Nemorino refuses and explains that he could never leave her side, Adina responds that she only seeks freedom, like the wind of a stream in nature. Nemorino’s ensuing pleas prove fruitless.

 

There is a new arrival, a man who introduces himself as the famous Doctor Dulcamara. With unstoppable eloquence, he proceeds to offer a range of items for sale: a wide variety of medicinal compounds guaranteed to cure each and every ailment (Udite, udite, o rustici!). What is more, he sells them cheap! No wonder then that the cunning apothecary’s merchandise attracts a good deal of attention. Dulcamara’s persuasion skills are well spent on Nemorino. Might the Doctor by any chance have in stock the elixir of Queen Isolde – a magic potion that kindles love? Being the shrewd quack that he is, Dulcamara can only reply in the affirmative: of course he has the philtre, he even prepares it with his own hands! Without delay, he displays the precious liquid – in reality, a bottle of Bordeaux wine – before Nemorino. It is supposed to take effect after 24 hours, by which time Dulcamara will surely have travelled far enough to be out of reach. Once Dulcamara has left, the impatient Nemorino grabs the bottle and takes a drink – perhaps it might take effect sooner? (Caro elisir! Sei mio!)

 

When Adina returns, Nemorino is already beginning to feel the “elixir’s” effects. He is affectively slightly drunk on wine. Nemorino is sure that in 24 hours from now Adina will find him irresistible and therefore he is feigning indifference towards her. Surprised by the change in his behaviour and confronted with a feeling of insecurity, Adina decides to punish him. For that purpose, she takes avail of the presence of Sergeant Belcore. Adina sets out to flirt with him, even suggesting she would be willing to wed him by the end of the week. At this point, the Sergeant is called back by his men: tomorrow the whole company has to leave. Adina then promises Belcore she will marry him today. In vain are Nemorino’s pleas for her to wait till tomorrow morning (Adina, credimi, te ne scongiuro!). Adina, however, invites the whole community to her wedding banquet, and Nemorino becomes the laughing stock: how silly it is of him to think he can compete for love with a soldier!

 

Act Two
At the banquet, all present raise a toast to the couple. Dulcamara joins in, inviting Adina to entertain the guests by singing a barcarole together with him. The guests are moved as Adina and Dulcamara sing about a beautiful gondoliera and her wealthy suitor (Io son ricco, e tu sei bella). Presently, the notary arrives to seal the marriage contract. However, Adina evidently misses the presence of Nemorino, whom she actually meant to tease by staging this fake wedding. The guests leave, with only Dulcamara staying. Nemorino enters, despairing. The only thing that might still save him would be the elixir taking effect instantly – a thought that is duly propped up by Dulcamara, who readily produces a fresh bottle. But then, Nemorino has no more money. Dulcamara offers to give Nemorino another fifteen minutes to get the dosh.

 

Belcore appears on the scene. Convinced of Adina’s love for him, he doesn't understand her decision to put the wedding off till the evening. Nemorino tells Belcore about his urgent need of money, whereupon the Sergeant suggests a simple solution: why not join the military and get ready cash right away (Venti scudi!). He goes on to glorify life in the army. Not really enthusiastic about the prospect, Nemorino is nonetheless too much in love with Adina to resist. He duly signs up, and rushes off to get the second bottle of the elixir. Giannetta comes in bringing the news she was told in confidence: Nemorino’s rich uncle has died, bequeathing to his nephew a fortune.

 

Meanwhile, Nemorino has helped himself to another dose of the magic potion, and is convinced that, as Dulcamara promised, he will now get female attention galore. And indeed, from the instant he enters he finds himself virtually besieged by young ladies. He doesn’t know this is due to the spreading news of his unexpected wealth. Adina and Dulcamara are taken aback: the previously mocked Nemorino has become a highly desirable match – and the young man, instead of lamenting the loss of his love, is now busy reciprocating the young ladies’ pleasantries. Adina has learned from Belcore about Nemorino’s recruitment, and she wants to talk to him, but Nemorino leaves with the girls in tow. Dulcamara boasts to Adina that the sudden rise in the young women’s attraction to Nemorino attests to the effect of his medicine. Thus Adina learns about Nemorino’s purchase from the quack of the elixir which he hoped to help him win her love. And that he has even had himself conscripted, in order to obtain the money for the potion! Adina is deeply moved by such true love (Quanto amore). For his part, Dulcamara, who has realised that Adina is in love with Nemorino, senses an opportunity for a further deal, and promptly offers the elixir to her as well. However, Adina declines – there is no need, she can safely rely on her own charms!

 

Nemorino returns. Indeed, it must have been a tear that he spotted on Adina’s cheek when he was flirting with the girls. She loves him after all! (Una furtiva lagrima) And yet, approaching Adina now, he once again feigns indifference. Adina shows him his enlistment contract, which she has bought out from Belcore (Prendi, per me sei libero), and finally confesses that she loves Nemorino. Looking on as Adina and Nemorino embrace, Belcore accepts the fact that he is losing his bride: no big deal though, there are so many other women out there! Nemorino turns to the assembled community, thanking Dulcamara for his good services. The latter proudly acknowledges it, and proceeds to inform everyone about the sizeable fortune Nemorino has been bequeathed by his late uncle. Dulcamara then promptly adds that his elixir is not just helpful in dealing with matters of the heart, but is equally potent as regards elevating its user from rags to riches! Potential customers are queueing up for the new product, all singing the praises of the celebrated Doctor Dulcamara.

Program and cast

Conductor: Anna Novotná Pešková

Adina: Vera Talerko

Nemorino: Petr Nekoranec

Belcore: Pavol Kubáň

Dulcamara: Vincenzo Taormina

Giannetta: Karolína Levková

 

State Opera Chorus
State Opera Orchestra
National Theatre Opera Ballet

 

Creative team

Stage director - Julia Burbach

Sets and costumes - Herbert Murauer

Light design - Reinhard Traub

Choreography - Cameron McMillan

Chorus master - Adolf Melichar

Dramaturgy - Jitka Slavíková

 

Approximate running time: 2 hours 35 minutes, 1 intermission (20 minutes)

Language: In Italian, surtitles in Czech, English

Prague State Opera

The State Opera today

 

The State Opera (formerly the State Opera Prague, between 1948 and 1992 the Smetana Theatre, and originally the New German Theatre) has been a part of the National Theatre since 2012. The Opera and Ballet ensembles give repertory performances at the State Opera.

 

History

 

The Prague State Opera resides in the building which on January 5, 1888 was opened as a Prague German stage with the performance of Wagner’s opera, The Mastersingers of Nürnberg. In the 19th century, Prague Germans performed in the Estate’s Theater in alternation with a Czech company. Desire for their own theater led to negotiations in 1883 for the construction of a new theater building for the German Theater Association. Over the next three years, a blueprint was drawn up and handed over to the Vienna atelier of Fellner and Hellmer. Also sharing in the design was the architect of the Vienna Municipal Theater, Karl Hasenauer, while Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller took part in the construction. Financing came from private collections. With its spacious auditorium and neo-Rococo decoration, this theater building is among the most beautiful in Europe.

 

Access:

 

By car

On Wilsonova street, from the left lane close to the State Opera building take the slip road to the Slovan above-ground garage. The parking fee is 40 CZK/h.

 

By tram

 

By daytime tram No. 11 to the stop “Muzeum”, through the underpass beneath Legerova street in the direction of the NationalMuseum, at the crossroads turn right along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

 

By daytime trams Nos. 3, 9, 14 and 24 or night trams Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 58 to the stop “Václavské náměstí”, then by foot uphill on the left side of the Wenceslas Square to the traffic lights across Wilsonova and Vinohradská streets. Then turn left along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

 

By metro

To the “Muzeum” station, lines A and C (green and red), and then by foot along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

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