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


With twenty eight years of Glyndebourne to look back on we always go in anticipation of a wonderful evening and L'elisir d'amore did just that for us and exceeded all expectations.
A truly enchanting production, beautifully performed and sung, a lot of fun to watch and with Danielle de Niese on great form as usual.
For once the weather was idyllic and box number 7 gave us a certain lift! A perfect antidote for the 'real world'
For us the Glyndebourne Experience gets better all the time and we speak with some authority. June 6th. 2011

This was a rather flat and uninspired L'Elisir. The set was one dimensional and static and the characterisation undeveloped even by midway through the second half. Nemorino is an ingenue; naif and really hopelessly in love. But he is also the one genuine person on the stage and it is that quality which eventually endears him to Adina after she has seen through the shallowness of everyone else and in so doing, matures herself. The WNO production of L'Elisir last year carried this off perfectly but in the Glyndebourne production Nemorino has a faintly malevolent edge to him; you feel that he is more likely to become a stalker than a suitor. Of course Danielle is superb, that goes without question but you could see that she was more comfortable in the role of Cleopatra last year. No blame to the singers, they did well but the direction was dreadfully, dreadfully dull. Even the addition of fairy lights in the second half couldn't raise our spirits.

This was our second trip to Glyndebourne this year and as expected, the production and staging were as spectacular as ever. L'elisir d'Amore is such a fun opera and this production really did concentrate on the fun. We thought Mrs Christie had a charming stage presence (especially the gentlemen among us) and she is certainly a fine actress. However, we all thought that her voice was a little "small" for the part and that perhaps bel canto isn't really her forte (excuse the pun). We also thought that, whilst enjoying Stephen Costello's voice, his interpretation of Nemorino was a little too "village idiot". However, it was still a lovely evening!

We always enjoy Glyndebourne with the very high standard of singing and productions and the beautiful surroundings and gardens. It is our annual extravaganza.
This year we were a little disappointed in the first half of L'elisir. There was very little movement on stage such that it seemed we were watching people singing their pieces without much expression or involvement. We were rewarded by a much more vital second half.
We brought guests who have never been before and had hoped for the usual 100% success.

Glyndeboourne surpassed itself ! It was my wedding anniversary , and what a way to celebrate with L'elisir d'amour. The production was brilliant and the singing sublime , from Danielle de Niese( my husband adores her ) to Richard Mosley-Evans:he was excellent although I loved the swagger of Sergeant Belcore and the extremely amusing soldiers.I must add that I loved the suspect assistant -rather menacing and very clever. It was a magical evening and we hope to be back soon .

Thank you for an wonderful performance of "L'elisir d'amore". I remember seeing it in 2007 but I dont remember being blown away as we were by last nights production. Adina and Nemorino were perfectly balanced and the rest of the cast - just perfect. After "The Meistersingers" with Gerald Finleys sublime performance and now "L'elisir" - we are looking forward enormously to "Rinaldo"

Danielle de Niese and Stephen Costello were both outstanding but I was enraptured by Danielle for both her singing which reached such heights and her acting and the general drama she brought to the production. I have enjoyed all three of this year's productions that I have seen so far, and of course they are all very different, but for pure enjoyment this has to be my number one. If I can get returns to see it again, I will. Magnificent, a triumph.

Both we and our German guests (their first experience of Glyndebourne leaving them hungry for more) enjoyed the production enormously. The enchanting set, the superb singing by both solists and chorus alike plus the sheer energy of the production were immensely rewarding. We may have shivered over dinner on the balcony but our spirits were again buoyed by the second act. Our congratualtions and thanks to the production team, the orchestra and the superb cast for an excellent evening. We are back (sans the German contingent)for "Rusalka" in August and are looking forward to it enormously.

Brilliant evening all round. The weather would've been a disappointment to others but we were snug (not to say smug!) in Nether Wallop where we were treated to a great supper; congratulations to the team there. Everyone we've been in contact with from the initial booking over the 'phone to being shut in our box(!) and guided out of the carpark has been a delight to encounter; what a pleasure! So thank you everyone at Glyndebourne. The opera (l'Elisir d'Amore) was spectacular: great staging, superlative performances all round. Huge fun. Thank you, all performers, and everyone backstage, for a wonderful evening. Congratulations to everyone and especially to Danielle de Niese for her amusing Adina and to Stephen Costello for his dear Nemorino!

Went on June 24th - freezing cold night (hard to believe as is now 30 degrees!) and rained during the interval. This did NOT dampen the amazing Opera. Danielle de Niese was spectacular and perfect for the role. Stephen Costello was supposedly suffering from a throat infection - love to hear him when he is in "good voice" as he was amazing.
All in all a fantastic performance of a great Opera. Everyone was in top form. Thank you for another memoralbe Glyndebourne evening. This seasons is proving difficult to fault so far !!

I have attended Glyndebourne at least once a year for some time, and L'elisir ranks as one of the very best and most enjoyable productions I have seen. My accompanying guests are all of the same opinion.

A wonderful night from start to finish. All principals sang beautifully and the individual performances within the chorus gave depth to the spectacle. Stephen Costello and Danielle de Niese shone. Dinner in Middle & Over Wallop completed a perfect evening. Thank you so much.

The spectacle of diners on the balcony wrapped in blankets against the most appalling weather only added to the fun. Danielle de Niese wonderful as ever, and so charming when she mixed with the audience after the performance in the bar. And what a wonderful understudy performance from Michael Wade Lee, dispelling any disappointment which might have followed the announcement.

What a perfect first night, the weather was perfect and the opera was a first rate example of a Glyndebourne ensemble creation. The casting was perfect but perhaps more than perfect for me was Daniele de Neise (sorry Gus!) and.. I managed to get her autograph!!
Another perfect performance took place in the Middle & Over Wallop where Albert Roux magic touch gave us a dining experience to equal that which was happening on the stage.
In over 40 years of visits to Glyndebourne this one was indeed extra special.

We attended last Friday, 17 June.The audience were told by the Front of house manager that the part of Nemorino was to be played by ? the understudy.
It was not at all apparent that Nemorino was not being played by the originally cast Stephen Costello, and in particular the aria Una furtiva lagrima was sung most movingly and with great artistry.
We saw this production at GFO in 2008(?) and arguably this was better and more enjoyable. Bravo to all concerned.

A wonderful evening last Friday, despite (as everybody else has mentioned), the dreadful weather. However, there was a great atmosphere amongst us diehards doing 'extreme picnicking' on the balcony, and the opera itself was unmissable. Lovely music, beautifully played, conducted and sung, good acting, well-designed sets and lighting, and bravura performances from Danielle de Niese and Michael Wade Lee. The latter's rendition of 'Una furtiva lagrima' was especially enthusiastically received by the audience in view of the short notice at which he had assumed the role, and justly so.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening, and a very good introduction to Glyndebourne. Thank you!

Wonderful production,worth standing for but a bit more comfort would be stools would do it!

An evening (09/06/11) much enjoyed my myself and my guests with fine chorus and ensemble work, and with a good orchestral sound. Why, oh-why, is there no reference in the reviews to "Cochise" .. this was surely the best 'mute' performance since Art Fisher invented "Harpo" for Adolph Marx ? Paulo Gavanelli's 'Dulcamara' was undoubtedly the finest voice of the evening .. whereas Danielle (as lucious as ever) was, perhaps, a little strident in two of the upper passages .. possibly ? And the shock of hearing the side drum - just behind our seats ! What a excellent introduction my friends had to Glyndebourne singing .. and the whole experience.

What a wonderful evening...truly magical (despite the awful weather)! A big thank you to all concerned - from the helpers behind stage to the stars on it.

To march on and play the Nemorino role so sympathetically was just marvellous. The whole production as fun and moving as last time. Loved the set and the lighting. the stage design team need a pat on the back. But where have the bats gone since the new theatre was built? I miss them

I absolutely endorse the previous comment. It was a night of extremes, the worst weather I have ever experienced at Glyndebourne but one of the best evenings; Danielle de Niese gets better and better and is perfect in the role of Adina and Michael Wade Lee did an exceptional job as cover for the indisposed Stephen Costello. Enrique Mazzola's conducting was also full of vigour and pep and kept the cast in touch. Bravo to all concerned. We shall hear more from Michael Wade Lee I feel sure.

As I had been feeling particularly unwell over the last week, I almost felt reluctant to go to Glyndebourne yesterday. However, I was more than glad that I was able to make the effort. I had seen this particular production before; however, with a different cast it was as engrossing as ever. All the principals were excelent. Special congratulations to Michael Wade Lee as a moving replacement Nemorino. Daniele de Niese gave a wonderful Adina; dramatically convincing and beautifully sung. Paulo Gavanelli and Rodion Pogosso were vocally and dramatrically convincing as Belcore and Dulcamara. The chorus members gave the impression of different clearly delinated individuals, which certainly added to the sense ofrealism. Altogether a wonderful evening. The weather however was a different matter ...

13th june Very impressed with Michael Wade Lee. He has a beautiful tenor voice, and he projected a most endearing character. The audience quite simply fell in love with him. A well deserved stamping ovation.

For me L'elisir d'amore at Glyndebourne is real Dulcamara's potion. I never have enough of it. So, I had seen it a few times & came again. I had as guests a young married couple & the husbands's mother. They were for the first time in Glyndebourne & found everything wonderful & hardly beliavable. On my part, I am still thinking about the piece when Danielle de Niese is pealing potato and singing. It answers both questions: What is art? & What is Glyndebourne? In short, being superb & doing it with the ease. Children do not need to see anything else, to realise it.

We were enchanted by this production two (?) years ago, which is why we came again this year. Not quite as enchanting, I'm afraid, this time. The cast changes were a disappointment, but we bought the DVD!

We could not have enjoyed our evening more! The production was simply excellent, crisp, fast moving, funny and everybody on stage appeared to be a character in their own right, the cumulative effect of which was to create an awesome whole and leave the whole audience uplifted. This was quite one of the best performances that we have ever seen at Glyndebourne - congratulations to everyone involved. Thank you.

Despite the most spectacularly "challenging" weather I can remember in 40 Glyndebourne years. the Elixir worked its miraculous magic! Huge congratulations to Michael Wade Lee on his superbly moving Nemorino - to Danielle de Niese's enchanting Adina - and to all the cast. Our hearts danced through the wind and the rain - elixir of love triumphant!

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