photo contributed The swaggering Sergeant Belcore proposes to Adina.

Sample the elixir of love with Live from the Met

Opera lovers can get a taste of romance to warm up for Valentine's day.

Opera lovers can get a taste of romance to warm up for Valentine’s day.

L’Elisir d’Amore HD Live from the Met comes to the silver screen on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 9 a.m., at the Salmar Classic.

L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) by Gaetano Donizetti has been among the most consistently popular operatic comedies for almost two centuries since it’s world premiere in Milan in 1832. The story deftly combines comic archetypes with a degree of genuine character development. Its ending is as much a foregone conclusion as it would be in a romantic comedy film today.

Donizetti (1797 – 1848) composed about 75 operas, many unknown until about 50 years ago when selected works came back into the repertoire. Felice Romani (1788-1865) the official librettist of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, worked with Donizetti on several other operas.

The opera is set in a small village in rural Italy. It’s a place where everyone knows everyone and where traveling salesmen provide a major form of public entertainment. The Met’s production sets the action in 1836, when the Risorgimento, the movement for Italian independence, was beginning to gather momentum. Barlett Sher’s production is charming, with deft comedic timing, but also emotionally revealing.

The four great leading roles are cast by Pretty Yende who debuts at the Met with her first Adina opposite Matthew Polenzani. Davide Luciano is Captain Belcore with Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Dulcamara — the travelling salesman. Domingo Hindoyan conducts.

L’Elisir combines a light-hearted love story with beautiful melodies. The tenor’s show stopping aria “Una furtiva lagrima” in Act II will have audiences holding their breath. Among the star tenors to appear as Nemorino, and to perform that most rewarding of arias, are Caruso, Gigli, Bergonzi, Pavarotti, and now Polenzani.

This opera represents the best of bel canto tradition — from funny patter songs to rich ensembles to wrenching melody in the solos. The joy is in the journey, and Donizetti created one of his most instantly appealing scores for this musical ride. The audience will leave uplifted and smiling.

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