L'elisir d'amore Teaching Resources

English Key Stage 4

L'elisir d'amore English Key Stage 4

Lesson one

Theme/ Activity headline: Researching how authors use love potions.

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 10-11: read a wide range of high-quality, challenging, classic literature and re-read literature as a basis for making comparisons

Starter activity

Researching love potions.

In L’elisir d’amore, Nemorino drinks a love potion to try to make Adina fall in love with him.

Pair talk: in the modern world is there anything that works as a love potion? (Money? Power? Kindness? Perfume?)

Share and discuss ideas as a class.

Main activity

In the library, or at ‘stations’ around the room, pupils research and make notes on three works containing love potions.

(Suggested texts for KS3: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Tristan and Isolde; The Chaser by John Collier)


Compare the potions: how does the writer present them? Write an essay to evaluate which one you think is the best use of a potion, explaining why.

Lesson two

Theme/ Activity headline: Investigating ‘Miracle Products’

Curriculum attainment targets: Year 10-11: understand and critically evaluate texts through:

  • reading in different ways for different purposes, summarising and synthesising ideas and information, and evaluating their usefulness for particular purposes
  • drawing on knowledge of the purpose, audience for and context of the writing, including its social, historical and cultural context

Starter activity

Investigating ‘Miracle Products’

In L’elisir d’amore, the love potion is a fake. Doctor Dulcamara pretends that his cheap wine is a ‘magic liquor’ love potion and sells it to Nemorino.

Dulcamara is not the first person to make exaggerated claims for a product.

Can you match the product to the tagline?

Main activity

As a class, with the teacher guiding, identify the persuasive devices used in a cosmetics advert. (See this link for some great examples, such as the Maybelline ‘Great Lash’ advert). Note the use of alliteration, patterns of three and pseudo-science.

Pupils should find two contrasting cosmetics or toiletries advertisements to compare, e.g.

  • A product for men/a product for women
  • A product from a previous decade and a product available today.


Invent a new ‘miraculous’ product. Who is its target market? It must have a suitable name, a slogan and a suitable marketing pitch, including the devices investigated.

Lesson three

Theme/ Activity headline: A philosophical enquiry stemming from army recruitment.

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 10-11 Spoken English: listen to and build on the contributions of others, asking questions to clarify and inform, and challenging courteously when necessary.

Starter activity

A philosophical enquiry

Desperate for money to buy Dulcamara’s love potion, Nemorino signs up to the army.

In a circle, as a class, read the newspaper article, Army Recruitment Applications Almost Double.

Main activity

Thinking about the recruitment advert and news article you’ve just read, in trios, think of three possible questions you’d like to ask about this subject.

Share your best question. Take a class vote to choose which question you will discuss. Remember, a good philosophical question does not need ‘facts’ to answer it, and often begins with Can we ever. . . Should we ever. . . Is it possible to. . . How far should we go to. . .?

Around the circle, everyone shares their ‘first thoughts’ on the question. Students can pass but make sure you return and give these students a chance to say something before closing the first thoughts round.

Discussion building: now students debate in ‘basketball talk’ across the circle, picking up on, building or challenging each other’s ideas. (You could display some useful phrases to help them with this).

Take a round of final thoughts in answer to the question.


Write an essay responding to the same question identified in class.

Lesson four

Theme/ Activity headline: From Comedy to Tragedy

Curriculum attainment targets: Years 10-11: write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length for pleasure and information, adapting writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences.

Starter activity

From comedy to tragedy

Sort the typical features of tragedies and comedies. (NB: some features apply to both genres!).

  • A wedding or party
  • Lies
  • Teasing
  • Death
  • A high-class protagonist
  • A character’s personality causes his own downfall
  • Difficult circumstances are overcome
  • A love triangle
  • Revenge
  • A sad ending
  • A happy ending

Review answers. Write a dictionary-style definition of these two dramatic terms.

Main activity

In L’elisir d’amore, Adina teases Nemorino by pretending to love Sergeant Belcore. After many twists, Adina and Nemorino are united. Belcore is philosophical despite being tricked into a wedding! As in all good comedies, all’s well that ends well.

But what if this had been written as a tragedy instead?

Which characters have a potential fatal flaw? (Jealousy; pride; gullibility; greed.) How could this story go wrong?

Pupils discuss in pairs, then individually plan and begin to write an alternative version of the story, featuring tragic elements. Choose your genre! A poem? (What type?) A play? A prose narrative?


Finish your tragic version of L’elisir d’amore, or write a monologue for Belcore where he vows revenge. Use rhyming couplets if you like!

Image credits: L’elisir d’amore, Festival 2011, photos by Bill Cooper

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