The newest series in the Opera on Wheels programme will bring a new production of Donizetti's most popular comic opera. This piece, which has enjoyed unbroken success since 1832, includes everything that is needed for carefree entertainment: a seemingly hopeless love, an intricate plot, the bucolic idyll of village life, a quack doctor peddling miracle cures, an unexpected inheritance and humour and lyricism, along with enchanting melodies like the famous tenor aria Una furtiva lagrima.
The audience will get to see the Opera's travelling production as directed by Attila Toronykőy.
An enormous, glittering lorry arrives in a small Italian town, and the people of the village come out to marvel at it. One of the youths, the poor lad Nemorino, however, is preoccupied only with his own sorrow: his unrequited love for Adina, the wealthy village beauty. The girl finds Nemorino's book lying on the ground. It is one that is quite familiar to her too: the love story of Tristan and Iseult, in which a remarkable love potion causes Iseult to return Tristan's love.
Suddenly, the local garrison arrives in the village, led by the corporal Belcore – a man never lacking in self-assurance. Immediately casting his eyes on the lovely Adina, he proposes marriage to her right there on the spot, to Nemorino's great despair. Adina hesitates to give an answer, but does provide lodging for the soldiers. As everyone withdraws, Nemorino stops Adina to speak to her. She, however, cuts him off and tells him straight off that he would do best to give up on her and try his luck in the city, because she will never be able to love him back.
Eventually, the owner of the lorry awakens and emerges from the vehicle, as the people of the village regard him with awe: he is Dulcamara, the (quack) miracle doctor, who travels the country with his two sons providing medicine – at a good price – for every ill. Nemorino's eyes light up and, with his last pennies, he purchases a love potion from Dulcamara. The wonder doctor says that his magic potion, which is really just terrible wine, will take effect in 24 hours (giving him enough time to move on before the fraud is detected).
Nemorino drinks the “love potion”, which goes to his head right away... Adina marvels at the lad's uncustomary good mood and self-confidence. Belcore marches in, and Adina, highly annoyed that Nemorino has suddenly lost interest in her, spitefully announces that she will marry Belcore, with the wedding to take place six days later. Just at that moment, however, a village lass named Giannetta rushes in with orders sent by Belcore's superior: the garrison must get ready to leave the next day. The corporal suggests that, in light of these orders, they should move the wedding date forward, and Adina agrees to hold the ceremony that evening. These words fill Nemorino with despair, as the “love potion” will not take effect by then. He begs Adina to wait for the morning, but the girl refuses to yield.
As the village celebrates Adina and Belcore's imminent union, Dulcamara performs a foreign song together with the bride. The notary arrives. Adina, however, is worried about the fact that Nemorino is nowhere to be seen – since her plan for revenge will amount to nothing if he is not there. The notary heads off, followed by everyone but Dulcamara, who remains behind.
Nemorino appears and despairingly begs the doctor to give him a wonder drug that will make Adina fall in love with him right away. Dulcamara is ready to foist a double-dose on the young man at the once, but upon learning that Nemorino has no money at all left, he leaves the unlucky lover high and dry.
Belcore happens by and sees the gloomy lad. Upon hearing that Nemorino is in urgent need of money, he makes him an offer: if he enlists in the army, a large sum will be his on the spot. Nemorino signs the paper and races off to Dulcamara with the money.
Giannetta excitedly tells the other girls the gossip that she has heard: Nemorino's rich uncle has died and left his entire estate to his nephew!
Nemorino, still unaware of this news, buys another dose of “love potion” with the money he received from Belcore and waits for the effect to hit him. When the money-hungry girls mob him, he is gratified to see that the love potion is working perfectly. Adina is surprised to see the girls suddenly competing for Nemorino. Having heard that the lad has enlisted in the army, she attempts to have a word with him, but the girls take him away to dance. Dulcamara informs Adina that Nemorino has purchased a love potion from him in order to make Adina fall in love with him. The girl realises that everything Nemorino has done has been for her sake, and that she herself has fallen in love.
Thinking about how rueful Adina looked to see him surrounded by so many girls, Nemorino starts to feel hope for the future. Adina informs the young man that she has asked Belcore to give back the contract that Nemorino signed: he will not have to go off to war after all. With great difficulty, the young woman confesses that she loves Nemorino back.
Belcore is astonished to see his bride in Nemoriono's arms, but is forced to resign himself to the fact that Adina is not going to marry him. Dulcamara informs Nemorino about the great inheritance he has received and, feeling fully satisfied with himself, travels onward: his “love potion” has brought happiness to the inhabitants of the village.