Gaetano Donizetti

L'elisir d'amore

9 June – 4 August 2011
Glyndebourne Festival 2011

5 stars The Daily Express

4 stars The Guardian, The Independent

‘a hugely engaging performance’ The Guardian

‘the truly outstanding performance was given by the American tenor Stephen Costello.’ The Daily Express

'...this production provides an elixir of pure joy.’ The Daily Express

‘But undoubtedly the star of the show is soprano Danielle de Niese... Her voice has become more substantial, and she sings Donizetti’s music with immaculate style. With her perfectly articulated bel canto vocalism blending into her overall acting performance, this interpretation represents a further step in the development of a remarkable artist, who lights up the stage with every gesture. She enjoys a well deserved triumph.’ The Stage

‘Paolo Gavanelli is a marvellously larger-than-life Dulcamara. The chorus was in enthusiastic fettle; and Enrique Mazzola’s conducting of the London Philharmonic bounded along with grace and suppleness.’ The Independent

Shy, penniless Nemorino is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Adina, but she has eyes only for the vain, swaggering Sergeant Belcore. Tables (and heads) are turned, however, when the ‘world famous’ Doctor Dulcamara rolls into town and sells the gullible Nemorino a bottle of his patent miracle cure. Can Dulcamara really have stumbled upon the legendary elixir of love?

Set in an idyllic vision of a southern Italian village square, Annabel Arden’s staging wittily distils the essence of Donizetti’s most intoxicating comedy into a vintage blend of sparkling high spirits and heart-warming sentiment.

The Spanish-born maestro Enrique Mazzola, who first conducted this production in 2007 for Glyndebourne on Tour, returns to conduct a brand-new cast led by the acclaimed young American lyric tenor Stephen Costello as the lovelorn Nemorino and Danielle de Niese as the seemingly unattainable Adina. Also making their Festival debuts as Belcore and Dulcamara are rising young Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov and celebrated Italian baritone Paolo Gavanelli.

A revival of the 2007 Glyndebourne on Tour production
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

This revival is sponsored by The Monument Trust.

Listen to the L'elisir d'amore podcast

Setting: A 19th-century Italian village

Act I

The harvesters are resting from their labours while the landowner Adina reads a book. The peasant Nemorino admires Adina – so learned, so lovely, yet so uninterested in him. Adina bursts out laughing and is asked to explain. Mockingly, she relates how Tristan and Isolde were brought together by a love-potion.

To the sound of a drum, a troop of soldiers marches in, led by the handsome Sergeant Belcore, who promptly presents Adina with flowers as proof of his affection. He asks her when she will marry him; she defers the decision while Nemorino laments his shyness.

Left alone with Adina, Nemorino presses his suit. She palms him off; he would do better to visit his uncle, who is seriously ill. She is capricious, she tells him, and will never settle down. He is the opposite, he responds, and can think of no one but her.

To great tantara, the quack Dr Dulcamara arrives and starts selling his beauty treatments and cures for ailments. Nemorino asks if he has Queen Isolde’s love-potion. Yes, indeed, replies Dulcamara – and sells him a bottle of plonk that will take, he says, a day to work.

Nemorino drinks it and, feeling an immediate effect, tries its influence on Adina; he feels sure that she will be his within 24 hours.

Belcore enters, reinstating his claims. To spite the newly confident Nemorino, Adina agrees to marry Belcore in six days. Nemorino is exultant. But suddenly a despatch arrives ordering the soldiers away the following morning. Adina agrees to bring the marriage forward to that very day.

Nemorino pleads with her to wait one day longer, but to no avail. As the preparations begin, he is in despair.

Dinner interval of approximately 85 minutes

Act II

The wedding celebrations are in full swing, though Adina is annoyed that Nemorino has not shown up to witness them. The notary arrives – but still no sign of Nemorino. Finally he enters, disconsolate, and appeals to Dulcamara to give him something that will make him immediately beloved. Dulcamara, who intends to leave within half an hour, offers another bottle, but Nemorino has no money to pay for it.

Belcore wanders in, wondering why Adina is now delaying the marriage formalities until the evening. He finds Nemorino desperate for money, and reminds him that he can earn 20 scudi – cash, on the spot – by joining the army. Nemorino signs up and, grabbing the money, goes in search of Dulcamara.

Meanwhile news is sweeping the village of the death of Nemorino’s uncle, who has left him a fortune. Suddenly, all the village girls are after him – which he puts down to the effect of the love-potion.

Dulcamara explains to the mystified Adina that the love-potion is clearly working for the poor, rejected lad. Feeling guilty, Adina vows to win his love back through other means.

Alone, Nemorino ponders the single tear he has seen in Adina’s eye. She must love him after all!

Adina approaches him shyly. He must not leave the village. She herself has bought back his army papers, and gives them to him. If she does not love him, he tells her, he would rather die a soldier – and promptly gives them back. Finally, she admits her feelings.

Belcore, finding them together, consoles himself with the thought of the thousands of other women in the world. The villagers wave goodbye to Dulcamara, who drives off to conquer new markets.

Words: George Hall

Creative team

Conductor Enrique Mazzola
Director Annabel Arden
Designer Lez Brotherston
Lighting designer Giuseppe di Iorio
Movement director Leah Hausman

Cast includes

Adina Danielle de Niese
Nemorino Leonardo Capalbo
Belcore Rodion Pogossov
Dulcamara Paolo Gavanelli
Giannetta Manuela Bisceglie

London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus

2011 Festival production
Paolo Gavanelli as Dulcamara and Danielle de Niese as Adina. Photo: Bill Cooper
Danielle de Niese as Adina. Photo: Bill Cooper
Danielle de Niese as Adina. Photo: Bill Cooper
The cast. Photo: Bill Cooper
Rodion Pogossov as Belcore and Danielle de Niese as Adina. Photo: Bill Cooper
Stephen Costello as Nemorino and Danielle de Niese as Adina. Photo: Bill Cooper
Paolo Gavanelli as Dulcamara. Photo: Bill Cooper
Paolo Gavanelli as Dulcamara and Stephen Costello as Nemorino. Photo: Bill Cooper
Manuela Bisceglie as Giannetta. Photo: Bill Cooper
Stephen Costello as Nemorino. Photo: Bill Cooper
Manuela Bisceglie as Giannetta and the Glyndebourne Chorus. Photo: Bill Cooper
The cast. Photo: Bill Cooper


In one word"Fabulous".A Star Production from the start when it exploded onto the stage.The singing from both"Individual Artists"and the "Chorus" was superb. A Most enjoyable evening.One of the best since since we first came to Glyndebourne 1967,and well worth the deserved standing ovation they all received. Thank You. Yours sincerely Sheila and Tony Mann. 15th August. 2011.

After a wonderful Händel performance suffocated by a self-indulgent production, how pleasant to report on a production which supports, rather than assassinates, the work it is meant to be presenting.
I've long loved this work, but never before have I appreciated how serious a piece it is (like all the greatest comic operas). Perhaps it's Geraint Evans' fault, but I've always seen it to be about Dulcamara. It isn't. It's about Nemorino, about yearning and despair.
Perhaps it was Annabel Arden's production, it was certainly in the orchestral direction, but overwhelmingly it was in Capalbo's eloquent, intense, performance. 'Una furtiva lagrima' wasn't the core of the work, but rather its culmination. De Niese's Adina was wonderful, seductive, witty, and ultimately matching the sincerity of Nemorino's ardour. If the significance of his role had changed, it didn't matter. Gavanelli was still a delight both as actor and singer.
A joyous evening.

We saw L'elisir on the 28th July and as usual the whole Glyndebourne experience was a delight.
We were lucky with the weather, always a help, and with the choice of opera. Thank you Glyndebourne for providing another day to remember.

A performance full of energy and moved quickly on by a lively & enthusiastic Conductor. The last performance is always rather special & we were not disappointed. Whilst we had a terrific evening entertained by great voices it was rather too similar to a West End Musical but performed with excellent operatic voices of quality. Somewhat cavalier of us as we love the Glyndebourne experience and always feel disappointed when the season is over.

We saw L'Elisir on 4/8/11 with our son,his wife and two children 12 and 8.We all loved it,and it is the perfect opera to introduce young to the medium.We also thoroughly enjoyed the workshop--Brilliant,Dom!Our son and his wife first saw it in San Geminiano in the open air,sitting on the church steps,so it has a special place in our hearts.
One negative was that ther was no CV of the super tenor singing Nemorino,which seemed a pity!(?Capalbo)
Finally we very much like the new marquee with the windows.

Every year without fail the operas at Glyndebourne surpass the efforts that are held elsewhere.I can only commend you for never failing to give exceptional performances from all in the cast,likewise the orchestra is to be congratulated on truly emotional interpretation of the score. Thank you. long may you continue to provide such pleasurable evenings

Leonardo Capalbo's performance was breathtakingly good. Absolute perfection. Surely a major star of the future? The production overall was wonderful and a very jolly evening was clearly much enjoyed by the audience. Danielle De Niese"s vocal performance was not strong but her beauty and acting more than compensated

It was our first visit to Glyndeborne and we immediately fell in love with the total experience, it was wonderful. The setting and atmosphere around the opera was delightful.The performance of Danielle de Niese was surperb as was that of Leonardo Capalbo. Two other artists that merit praise were Paolo Gavanelli and James Bellorini. The production was a great success. Thank you for a wonderful day.

A stunning achievement all round. Fabulous individual and ensemble singing - accurate and with feeling. And from the chorus and orchestra. Plus some great acting. The savings on an economy set and props have clearly been invested in the music. Well done all.

We first saw this production when the touring company produced it two or three years ago. We loved it then and it is still one of our favourites. A truly lovely production with faultless singing and acting. It was a brilliant idea to offer lower priced tickets for children and our 15 year old son who has hitherto not been an opera fan gave it his highest accolade - "Not as bad as I thought it would be."!!

Performance 31st. July. truly magnificent.James Bellorini made a significant contribution to the enjoyment of the evening but I could not find any details about him in the programme.Pity.
Glorious weather and altogether a memorable evening.

I brought six friends to Glyndebourne to celebrate my birthday. Five of them were not opera buffs (one had fallen asleep in every previous opera he had seen)and for one it was her first opera. I fear that anything they see after this will be a huge anti-climax. A sparkling production that bounced along at a thrillingly exciting pace. For me the stand-in Nemorino was the star of the show but the entire cast was outstanding. We all came out beaming from ear to ear wanting to watch it all from the start again immediately.

28 July
This was an ideal opera to which to introduce my 15 year old nephew to this art form. He thought it was brilliant and I had gone back for second helpings having so enjoyed an earlier performance, especially that of the understudy for Nemorino. Even my husband stayed awake, as we had standing tickets! A quitessentially English evening. The director achieved her aim which was to transport us.

My fourth encounter with this production having first seen it on tour in Milton Keynes and London. Once again it provided a hugely enjoyable evening and one of my guests who was making her first trip to Glyndebourne could not have been more delighted with the whole experience.
My dream cast from your recent productions would be Ekaterina Siurina (with Adriana Kucerova on hand in case of tonsilitis), Peter Auty, Rodion Pogossov, Paulo Gavanelli and Eliana Pretorian.
Trusting you can organise this for the next revival with Maurizio Benini conducting....many thanks.

We saw L'Elisir d'Amore on 19th July. I enjoyed every minute. I could have sat through another performance that evening! The cast was outstanding. For me the real star was Danielle. She is an amazing singer and actress. Her very presence on the stage creates electricity. I can't wait to see her again.

Brilliant, we got last minute tickets from returns and thought that maybe the seats would be a problem but no, we saw everything and loved the opera. It was a beautiful evening so we were able picnic on the lawn and people watch. What more could you ask! Fantastic!

For the first time in years we didn't freeze to death - can't remember when we last had a picnic in the gardens. We were so lucky with the weather, but decided to set up our picnic on the Upper Circle Terrace just in case. Bit concerned about the replacement Nemorino, but we needn't have been. He was wonderful. In my view no-one could have done it better! Even had an opportunity to exchange a few words with him after the performance which we were so pleased to be able to do. A wonderful production for a summer evening. We all went home feeling elated.

What a fantastic performance all around!!!! Leonardo Capalbo's Nemorino was simply outstanding. We were floored by his beautiful rich voice and acting. I not sure anyone was breathing by the end of the famous una furtiva lagrima aria- wow! Daniele de Niese was a sassy Adina of considerable appeal. She was announced as unwell but did not show it. Paolo Gavanelli was a most charming Dulcamara. We had a great evening.

Back to the standards of 50 years ago,a triumph.

What a joyous and enjoyable evening of July 24th. This superb and totally appropriate production was in total contrast to Rinaldo. The staging, orchestra and sets were wonderful and all the cast sang superbly with especial plaudits to Danielle De Niese and Paolo Gavanelli who both had wonderful voices and excellent musicianship. Thank you for a memorable evening - much enjoyed by all four of us.

We were at Sunday's performance of L'Elisir d'Amore. What a treat - not having seen it before, we were utterly enchanted. It may have had something to do with Danielle de Niese's total command of the stage plus the quality of her singing and Leonardo Capalbo's tenor as her perfect partner. It was certainly the best we've seen so far this year.

Leonardo was a wonderful Nemorino! That voice! That look! So moving. He suited the part so well. Danielle sang beautifully too. Manuela was superb! Paolo brought his character to life! Such a great performance. The stage design worked so well. Bravo! Only down side was the chorus. The chorus was rather weak in its acting skills. Some of the women who were at the front of the stage and had slightly more major roles than the other members of the chorus - like running first for the potion, cuddling their army men, sitting by the table post the party the night before - had no love or any connection for their role. What a disappointment there.

A really memorable evening - every exhilarating minute of it. Adina and Nemorino were outstanding and were supported by a superb cast. To enjoy the choreography, acting and the singing, all of such a high standard, was a joy and exceptional. Congratulations.

L'elisir, 22nd July: What a joy! Congratulations to all!

A lovely evening; real laughter and real tears.

My husband and I went to see this opera on Sunday 24 July for our wedding anniversary. Thankfully the sun was shining so we could enjoy the gardens at their best. The main cast was wonderful. The stand in for Nemorino was divine! He took my breath away. He surpassed everyone. The chorus, however, was quite dire. Really weak acting. Some of the peasants girls looked as if they did not want to be there - even the odd ones who had a slightly more major role than the other extras. That was disappointing.

A really great production and a truly memorable evening in every respect.

Wind and pouring rain but who cares? What an absolutely magical and uplifting performance with everyone on stage and in the pit giving their utmost and Leonardo Capalbo stealing the limelight from even the superb established leads. We have been to more complex, challenging and thought-provoking productions over the past fifteen years but none more joyous, sparkling and captivating than this. We smiled all the way home and would both happily have walked, let alone driven back from Somerset to repeat the experience had even standing seats been available for the remaining performances (we checked). Bravo and encore!

We enjoyed the singing and acting enormously: we were wonderfully entertained. The 19th century is not strained by a production such as this, and Margaret, my wife, thought the whole evening marvellous. Thank you. Any chance of the Marriage of Fig. next year?... with 18th. century costume? I first heard it (Cambridge Arts Theatre) when I was 6 years old and did not enjoy the human voice then.

The performance last night was a TRIUMPH. Leonardo Capalbo was brilliant and the clear star of the evening. He has a gorgeous voice and huge presence. Beautiful Daniel de Niese was a sparkling Adina. The two had great chemistry and looked down right adorable. Bravo to Glyndebourne for a top notch performance!

An immaculate production - truly fabulous in every respect but especially Nemorino. We had a novice in our party - she was completely enchanted and is, of course, now converted.

Even better than than the performance a couple of years ago. I can not believe there was a cast change, they were so good. Brilliant.

A truly delightful experience. I have seen this opera several times before, including once at Glyndebourne, but for me this was the best.

Fine performance -very good stage management of minor parts.
I have seen this production twice previously -the singinfg in the first act this time was not as assured as in the second half due to new understudy taking role. When he gained confidence he did very well.
Cleopatra as the herione is great.

I and my friend had a marvellous afternoon and evening July 14th at Glyndebourne and L´elisir d´amore.I had looked forward to Stephen Costello but Leonardo Capalbo as Nemorino did not make me in the least disappointed although I think Danielle de Niese and Paolo Gavanelli carried the performance to its heights.

The lovely weather gave us a most enjoyable picnic in the beautiful grounds.
We had travelled from Sweden for this occasion and it will be a memory for life. I hope to be able to come back another summer!

We were bowled over by last nights magnificent performance. A tour de force. Michael Wade Lee was simply brilliant. A stunning and wind swept night.

One gets used to excellence at Glyndebourne. Perfection is rarer. During the performance on 14th July I could not find even the tiniest flaw. The soloists, chorus, staging and orchestra were all superb. Above all maestro Mazzola made the music sparkle. Danielle de Niese was wonderful. Leonardo Capalbo's Glyndebourne debut was a revelation. Your casting department did well to find such a star at short notice; I hope he will soon return. Overall a fabulous evening which bears comparison with Tristan in 2007.

Magical, funny, enchanting and clever, delicously performed by the georgeous, flirtacious and coquettish Danielle de Niese. I was spellbound and transported to that piazza were with the details of the lamp-post and trees I knew I was in a remote Italian hilltop town. In the very first minute the buxom signorina with her arms akimbo said it all, I knew where I was. L'Elisir d'amore was wonderfully and joyously sung, played and acted. It deserved the stamping applause. Oh when can we come again? BRAVI!

L'Elisir d'Amore, 14th July 2011. I had forgotten how lovely the music is - highlights for me were the quartet towards the end of the first half and Nemorino's aria Una furtiva lagrima. But I have rarely been so aware of an orchestra and singers (brilliant chorus) in such total harmony. The guy who sung Nemorino was a replacement as the original choice had developed tonsillitis and he was a sensation. Roaring ovation at the end which was more rapturous even than that for Daniele. The evening was calm and mild, we ate outside and we walked in the garden afterwards enjoying the full moon and being astonished by how much light was in the sky.

The performance on Sunday 10th was magical. Mrs. Christie was an enchanting
Adina and Michael Wade Lee got a well deserved stomping ovation as Nemorino: he made the role his own and is on our tenor watchlist from now on. Paolo Gavanelli was our favourite voice of this cast, but were also impressed by Rodion.

Inspired singing, great acting, excellent set & production work, glorious weather and a fabulous picnic: it was utter joy and Glyndebourne at its best.

There have been so many differing repolrts of the Opera that I was not wholly keen to see it.
However I was so pleasantly surprised that I came away with a great ' air ' of delight .

Of course Mrs. Christie ahs so much ' going ' for her and this production was no exception . Her Adina was magical , her singing always enchanting. The idea of potato peeling and singing so gloriously gives a whole new slant on Sunday roast lunches . Always coming to GLyndebourne thrills and this production is no exception . My sincere & grateful thanks to aLL .
Kind & warm regards

Wonderfully romantic production of an opera we had not seen before. Glyndebourne regulars of twenty years' standing, but this this was one of our best ever evenings. Hard to fault the singing or the staging and the understudy played a blinder. We were humming the barcarole all the way back to Oxford. Fab night - thank you

Loved all aspects, the commitment from both soloists and chorus and the brilliance of Donizetti's facility with a tune. Took some non opera people who were bowled over, by the production, Glyndebourne's setting, definite ideas for their garden, and by the whole ambiance.

We very much enjoyed the performance the singing was wonderful and the energy of the acting really comes across to enhance the singing. The only problem was the airconditioning which was so cold that it was hard to concertrate during the first half. It was turned down or up a bit for the second part which was fine.

Great performance yesterday for "Elisier d'Amore"; the replacement of Nemorino by Michael Wade Lee was super (I've heart Pavarotti in his glorious days in Verona -hm hm as a lover?)...Adina gave the ideal voice to her part, wow!! the cast was just splendid and my seat in the private box also.
During the intervall (it was my first time there) I was even invited to join a family of Paris and the UK (Chantal, Nicolas, their daughter Sara, a friend named Mila and their daughter)to take part at their picnic (what a huge choice!). I got so excited that I even forgot to ask their surname, but I hope to find them again, maybe next year.
An experience with the music, the audience, together with the weather warms the heart.

It was stunningly hilarious, beautifully produced and superbly sung, without a lot of money being spent on the set. The understudy of Nemorino was a great success. And one should not overlook James Bellorini who played his part perfectly and added so much to the fun.

Well done and thank you; a marvellous production once again! Danielle de Niese displayed a remarkable vocal and stage presence as Adina, ably complemented by a truly endearing Nemorino from Michael Wade Lee. It is hard to imagine better casting for L'elisir than this production. Enrique Mazzola and the LPO were on superb form, rounding off a memorable Glyndebourne experience.

The performance on Sunday 10 July was quite simply the best L'Elisir I've been to ! A truly brilliant production. The weather was also perfect and the lecture on the Opera in The Ebert Room was most interesting.
Well done to all concerned.

All superb as usual! Danni was just amazing! and the "stand in" for Nemorino nerve free and just wonderful.

Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next year.


On Sunday 3rd July 2011, I and two friends saw L'Elisir D'Amore by Donizetti. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance. It is slick, and funny, beautifully sung, and acted with lovely scenery and costumes. We were lucky enough to have seats in the Stalls.

Just one criticism however, we got cricked necks looking upwards for the English words! I also found that if I was caught up with the story and was watching the stage with rapt attention, I missed the words as they did not stay on long enough. Especially when the words were obviously being repeated, and I found they were off too early.

Other than this it was a most enjoyable production and we loved it. Thank you, and thanks to all the cast. Wonderful.

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