Performing arts center to screen romantic Italian opera

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Pretty Yende as Adina in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore.” (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

The Met’s production of the opera, “L’Elisir d’Amore” (“The Elixir of Love”) will be shown at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center and in cinemas nationwide on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.

The romantic comedy by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti has been one of the most consistently popular operatic comedies since its debut in 1832.

The melodic score of “L’Elisir d’Amore” is instantly appealing and features exquisite solos, a funny patter song, duets, trios and chorus numbers. Its four main characters are comedic archetypes, but those characters display convincing character development — something that does not usually occur in comic operas. Music critics describe Donizetti’s score as “consistently good throughout,” despite the fact that the composer cranked it out with his librettist Felice Romani in just a few weeks. Donizetti really did have to hurry — he eventually composed 75 operas despite a looming mental illness and an early death. OperaBase lists L’Elisir d’Amore as the 13th most performed opera worldwide between 2008-13.

This production of “L’Elisir d’Amore” is a revival of the Bartlett Sher production that debuted at the Met in 2012.

Like Donizetti — Sher set the action in a small Italian town in the 1830s — the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else and traveling salesmen are a source of entertainment. Doctor Dulcamara comes to town advertising an elixir to cure all ills, including love sickness. The good-hearted but bumbling peasant Nemorino buys some elixir (in reality, just cheap wine) to win the heart of the lovely Adina, a beautiful lady landowner he admires, but who he feels would otherwise be out of his league.

Nemorino is so certain this love potion will eventually make him irresistible that he feigns indifference to Adina at first. Hurt by Nemorino’s behavior, Adina agrees to marry the handsome Sergeant Belcore the next day. Desperate Nemorino decides he needs another bottle of Dulcamara’s elixir, but he has no money. Sergeant Belcore offers to give him an immediate enlistment bonus if he agrees to join his regiment, and Nemorino accepts. Meanwhile, the village girls have heard that Nemorino’s rich uncle has just died, leaving Nemorino a wealthy man. Suddenly all the girls fawn over Nemorino, which he interprets as proof the second bottle of elixir is working. Adina finally realizes her true feelings for Nemorino and confesses her love to him (and that she bought out his contract from the army), and the two are happily united.

The total run time is 2 hours 39 minutes, including one intermission, and the opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Also broadcast on Saturday at 1 p.m., approximately 20 minutes after the opera concludes, is the Met documentary “The Opera House,” a 108-minute chronicle of the Met’s storied home at Lincoln Center for the last 50 years. The film draws on rarely seen archival footage and interviews with artists, architects and politicians who shaped the cultural life of New York City in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Tickets for “The Opera House” are $15 at the door.

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