Introduction for The Elixir of Love

Donizetti’s opera L’elisir d’amore(The Elixir of Love) is truly a work of “rare quality,” just as the librettist, Romani, describes Nemorino’s most-desired elixir.

In 1832, a composer who promised the impresario of the Cannobiana Theatre in Milan a new work for the spring opera season did not complete the commission. Donizetti was approached to fulfill the assignment, even though he had recently experienced a failed opera at La Scala. The composer was 34 years old, had written 36 operas, and had only recently been recognized as a success with his opera Anna Bolena.

Donizetti’s new opera, L’elisir d’amore, was completed for performance in less than a month, and some sources state that he wrote it in as few as eight days.

Although Donizetti’s musical style includes the “formula” of set musical numbers (arias, duets, trios, and ensembles) with accompanied (orchestral) recitatives, the lyrical nature contrasted with fast-paced rhythmic patter allows for an unusual continuity of conversational sections blended with those of sincere, personal emotion. There are many times when the patter music of one character is superimposed over another of opposite nature, or when one is understated and another overt in complicated ensemble music. Donizetti’s penchant for beautiful melodies is equally strong with the comic nature of his fast-paced character rhythms.

Both the young and the young-at-heart will enjoy this pastoral comedy, L’elisir d’amore, Donizetti’s forty-first opera in 16 years, and one of indisputable popularity to be presented by Utah Opera in Salt Lake City, March 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 2012.

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