As workers rest in the shade, Nemorino secretly admires the beautiful Adina reading aloud from “Tristan and lsolda.” She bursts out laughing at the thought of anyone using a love potion to win someone’s heart. 

Soldiers arrive looking for new border guard recruits, led by the swaggering officer Belcore. Presenting gifts to Adina he suggests they marry immediately, but Adina coolly asks for a few days to consider the offer. Nemorino agonizes over the prospect of losing his chance. As the workers return to the fields, he summons the courage to make his case to Adina, who promptly turns him down, saying she has no desire to be tied down to anyone. 

Before Nemorino can finish professing his undying devotion, a fancy and mysterious visitor causes a commotion. It is Dulcamara, a “doctor” who arrives offering concoctions designed to cure a wide assortment of ailments for a small price. Nemorino excitedly inquries if Dulcamara carries Isolde’s famous love potion. After a moment of bewilderment, Dulcamara quickly assures him that it’s one of his best-sellers, much to the chagrin of Dulcarma’s Assistant.  

As it turns out, Nemorino happens to have just enough in his pocket to cover one dose. As the “doctor” guarantees Nemorino of the elixir’s powers, the Assistant scrambles to “create” the elixir by disguising a bottle of old Bordeaux wine with juice from oranges squeezed from around Adina’s farm.  Dulcamara reassures Nemorino that the elixir takes 24 hours to take effect knowing full well that Dulcamara and his Assistant will be long gone by the time Nermorino catches onto their deception. Nemorino eagerly downs the drink. 

Nemorino’s suddenly buoyant and carefree mood vexes Adina. Belcore returns and once again to renew his marriage proposal to her. Annoyed by Nemorino’s indifference, Adina hastily accepts Belcore’s offer, not thinking of the consequences that might occur.  Nemorino while flustered doubles down on his indifference, confident that in 24 hours’ time Adina will be his, inciting Belcore’s rage.     

Belcore’s men arrive with orders revealing that Belcore and his men must depart imminently.  Using this as leverage, Belcore pressures Adina to marry him that very day. Nemorino embarrasses Adina in front of the villagers as he begs her to wait a little longer – he needs more time for the zesty elixir to work its magic – but it is to no avail. Nemorino despairs as Adina and Belcore go off to search for a notary in order to marry later that evening.     


Later the same evening, despite not having signed the marriage contract, Adina hosts a wedding party annoyed that Nemorino is notably absent. Dulcamara heartily enjoys the free refreshments, singing a song in honor of his hostess, and Adina chimes in, enjoying the flattery.  Belcore summons a notary to arrange the wedding contract but Adina, annoyed by Nemorino’s apparent absence, decides to wait before putting pen to paper. 

Nemorino arrives, still distraught over the rapidly approaching marriage. He pleads for Dulcamara’s help. The “doctor” suggests he double the dose, but… no discounts. Nemorino admits he is flat broke, abruptly bringing an end to the transaction. Out of desperation, Nemorino finds his rival and enlists with Belcore’s unit, who offers him money to enlist.  Nemorino has no choice in order to earn enough for that second dose. 

Giannetta brings news from the village that Nemorino’s uncle has passed away, leaving his nephew a fortune. All at once, Nemorino has become the most eligible bachelor in the area. Nemorino is totally unaware of the news of his uncle’s passing.  Initially bewildered, he attributes his sudden popularity with the ladies to the power of Dulcamara’s zesty elixir. Dulcamara, seeing how the women are treating Nemorino also starts to believe in the power of his own potion and specifically in the power of oranges of Adina’s farm.   

As Adina wonders at Nemorino’s new-found popularity with the ladies, Dulcamara explains to her the potency of his love-potion, and the great lengths to which Nemorino went to purchase it and thereby win her love, including enlisting in Belcore’s unit. Adina, fearing that she is about to lose Nemorino, finally acknowledges the strength of her feelings for him and resolves to win him back. 

With dawn rapidly approaching, Nemorino dares to hope that his dream of winning Adina’s love may be about to come true. Adina, having repaid Belcore the recruitment fee, confesses to Nemorino that she loves him. An overjoyed Nemorino once again gives thanks for Dulcamara’s miracle elixir.  When they hear of the inheritance, their happiness is complete. Belcore is obliged to leave empty-handed, but Dulcamara, attributing all this success to the power of the oranges in his elixir, buys all that he can muster and departs in triumph as all drink to his health and the health of the new couple.

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