It took a mere six weeks for the composer Gaetano Donizetti to compose the music for the comic opera L'elisir d'amore, and the work was an instant hit when it debuted in May of 1832 in Milan.
It went on to become the most performed opera in Italy in the years between 1838 and 1848. It is Donizetti's most popular opera, and it is still an international favorite today.
Donizetti was born in Italy in 1797. Throughout his career, he wrote symphonies, cantatas, oratorios, and more—including nearly 70 operas, both comic and tragic. In 1830, his new opera based on the life of Anne Boleyn made a huge splash in the national and international opera ponds, and from that point on, Donizetti was flooded with commissions.
L'elisir d'amore was written in the bel canto style, in which the exquisite skills of the human voice are celebrated. The literal translation of bel canto is “beautiful song,” and often the orchestral contribution is minimal, meant to support the singer. The story of L'elisir d'amore is also Romantic in style; it takes place in the early 19th century in Basque country and revolves around a poor man's true love for a wealthy woman who appears to scorn him, and the “Elixir of Love” that he hopes will make her love him in return.
Wichita State University is performing L'elisir d'amore onstage at Miller Concert Hall on Thursday, November 9th and Saturday, November 11th.