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Kayla Pierce

Vocal Music 4
Period: 1


The Elixir of Love Challenges Preconceived Thoughts on Opera

On Saturday, March 19th, 2016, I was given the opportunity to witness my first opera. I
had read a review on LElisir dAmore before witnessing it, and I was apprehensive of it. I wasnt
sure I would enjoy it, because of preconceived ideas that operas were very boring. However, this
blew my expectations out of the water, and I would like to discuss some key points, including set
design and costumes, portrayal of the characters, and personal opinion of each Act.
LElisir dAmore, translated to The Elixir of Love, was written by Gaetono Donizetti and
made its premiere in 1832. The opera begins with Nemorino, the tenor voice, telling the audience
about his infatuation with Adina, the soprano, as well as a farm woman that he feels he cant get
to. A band of soldiers come by, and we are introduced to Belcore, the baritone of this opera. He
immediately asks Adina to marry him, but she tells him that she will think it over. Nemorino
begs her not to marry him, but she dismisses him. We are then introduced to Dulcamara, a
traveling doctor, as well as the bass voice in the opera. He tells Nemorino of an elixir that will
make Adina fall in love with him. It turns out to be only a strong wine, and it causes Nemorino to
become terribly drunk. Surprised by Nemorinos new behavior, she agrees to marry Belcore, and
Nemorino is heartbroken.
As Act 2 begins, we enter upon a pre-wedding feast, where Dulcamara and Adina tell a story.
Throughout the feast Adina wonders why Nemorino isnt there. Meanwhile, Nemorino needs
more money for the elixir, and Belcore tells him to join the army. He agrees. He becomes drunk
again, but this time he is surrounded by women. He has no idea that he has become a rich man
through the passing of his uncle. But he only cares for Adina. Adina cares for him as well, and
when the women have all left, she tells him that she bought back his enlistment papers. She
finally confesses her love for him, and the curtain closes on Dulcamara, proclaiming to the whole
world about his wonderful elixir.
I believe that every great show, whether it be musical, opera, or standard play, must have
excellent sets and costumes. The Elixir of Love met my expectations and gave me even more.
One of the first things that caught my attention was the curtain itself. On the outside it looked
like a painting, depicting a country village. But when the stage lights came on, audience
members were able to see through the curtain itself and witness the ensemble performing the
everyday tasks of villagers. I had never seen anything like this before, so it gave me a good first
impression of what I was witnessing. The set design in itself was impressive. Everything looked
real, and I felt like I was transported to another world. I was particularly impressed with the barn
at the beginning of Act 2. It was very spacious and resembled a real barn. The costumes were just
as impressive. An example comes from Adinas costume. She wears a shirt and skirt combo, and
what is interesting about her outfit was her skirt. It is long and a deep shade of red. It shows her
sense of being a free spirit. The color is one that stands out, and it reminds me of colors and
cultures from Spain. Even the chorus, who dressed the same, stood out without drawing attention
to themselves. Belcores uniform shows authority, and Nemorinos semi-formal outfit made me
consider him a reserved character. Dulcamara was dressed in way that made people laugh, giving
people the impression that he would be a comic relief character.
A performance can have great set design and costumes, but it is nothing without its
performers. My biggest concern come from where I was sitting in the opera house. I was sitting
at the top level, with the stage far below me. This was a reason behind why I was so impressed

Kayla Pierce
Vocal Music 4
Period: 1


with the curtain, as I was able to see the whole stage without any hindrances. But with those
came the problem of not seeing the faces of the actors. The topic talked about the most when
critiquing a musical performance is the amount of facial expression put forth by the performer.
Unfortunately, from where I was seated, it was impossible to see faces. So I had to rely on the
performers body language to accurately judge their portrayal of the character. I was fairly
impressed, but I felt that more could have been given. One example was when Nemorino drank
the elixir and became drunk. He had this very awkward walk that didnt come off as drunk, but
more uneducated and dumb. So while I was happy with the characters performance, I felt that
more could have been done.
What I really enjoyed about the opera was how connected each scene was to the next.
Everything seemed to flow nicely together, with very few opportunities to be bored. In Act I,
however, the story was slow-going. I felt that the play was dragging, and I heard later on that a
few of my classmates fell asleep, because of how long it was and how relaxing the music was. I
was, however, able to stay engaged and really understand the story. I even got a few laughs out
of it. Moving on to Act II, I had a much better time with staying engaged and keeping up with the
story. This Act was more romantic and had more action, and the solos that happened here were
absolutely phenomenal. I was blown away, especially with the duet between Adina and
Nemorino, where she confesses her love to him.
In closing, The Elixir of Love is an opera that no one should miss. It is funny, had great
characters, and even better singing. This was my first experience with opera, and I cant think of
a better way to start. Before seeing it, my impression was that it would be sad and filled with
long boring arias that would be a waste of my time. But boy was I wrong. I stayed engaged to
the story from beginning to end. I laughed, almost cried, swooned. I had never had an experience
such as this. It blew my expectations out of the water. If you are looking for a way to Segway
yourself into the world of opera, I would highly suggest that The Elixir of Love be your first