In L'elisir d'amore, composer Donizetti incorporated sadly romantic melodies into the realm of comic opera to create a work that audiences really respond to. Director Cessare Lievi's production diverges from the original in that the chain of events set in motion by the love potion lead to a happy ending. The set is done in vivid colors and features a life-size airplane. For high school students, L'elisir d'amore is an ideal introduction to opera.
It is a romantic comedy about a young man desperate to win the heart of the woman he loves, and a woman who cared nothing for the young man suddenly realizing that she can't live without him. The characters of the pure and simple protagonist Nemorino and the clever heroin Adina can be easily felt in the melodies. In addition to the great aria, Una furtiva lagrima, the music written for the villain Sargeant Belcore and the witty Dulcamara truly highlight Donizetti's skill as a composer. Reprising his role as Belcore will be Yonashiro Kei, who turned in a fine performance in the 2010 premiere.
[Educational Programme for High School Students]
One mission of the New National Theatre, Tokyo is to promote the popularization of the contemporary performing arts. The Educational Programme for High School Students was started in 1998 and is offered each year, to give young people the opportunity to experience real, high caliber artistic productions. It began with a novel concept to present great works of opera in full, and stage them for high school students in exactly the same manner as they are for our regular patrons. The response to the Programme has been overwhelmingly positive. Questionnaires have shown that for over 80% of those attending each year, it is their first time to see an opera; and 70% cannot even name a single opera. That notwithstanding, once the curtain opens, a hush falls over the noisy theatre as the students are presented with the dramatic storylines and musical intensity of these great operatic works. In 2008 the NNTT staged its first production in the Kansai region, with a production of Madama Butterfly. This timeless classic was staged again in 2009 and 2010. Each year, between the performances in Tokyo and those in Kansai, a combined total of more than 13,000 high school students get their first experience of a real opera via the Educational Programme for High School Students. The works staged thus far are among the finest in opera: Madama Butterfly; Tosca; Carmen; Cavalleria rusticana; and La traviata. In 2011, Madama Butterfly will be staged in Tokyo for the first time in four years. And in Kansai, we will present the NNTT production of L'elisir d'amore, which delighted audiences when it premiered in April 2010. The Kansai production will be performed at Archaic Hall, and with their performance of the orchestral score, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra will no doubt breathe new life into an already great production.
The village folk gather as Adina, a beautiful landowner, reads aloud from a book. The young peasant Nemorino is in love with her. Sergeant Belcore arrives with his regiment and his eye falls on Adina. Adina is indifferent to Nemorino's interest. The quack doctor Dulcamara sells Nemorino a love elixir and says it will not take effect until the next day; the bottle contains only wine. The Sergeant returns. He has received orders to take his troops to a new location, and so proposes to Adina that they marry before the day is out. Nemorino worries that the elixir will not have time to work, and entreats them to wait one more day. This gets a cursing from Belcore. Adina invites all to a banquet, while Nemorino goes alone to seek the doctor's help.
At a pre-wedding celebration for Adina and the Sergeant. Adina is sad to see that Nemorino is absent. Nemorino has joined Belcore's regiment as a means to earn the money for another bottle of the elixir. Gianetta arrives with news that Nemorino's uncle has died and willed him a fortune. Nemorino himself arrives soon after, and as the young women suddenly shower him with attention, Nemorino believes the elixir is working. Adina tries to win Nemorino back. Seeing this, Nemorino becomes aware of her feelings and sings his famous aria, Una furtiva lagrima (A furtive tear). Adina has bought back Nemorino's military contract from Belcore and gives it to him; Nemorino exclaims that if he is not loved, he might as well go off to die as a soldier. The two confess their true feelings for each other. Belcore returns, and lets go of Adina with good grace. As Dulcamara leaves the village, a crowd gathers to give him a rousing farewell.