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date: 23 January 2020

Amore medico, L’ [Der Liebhaber als Arzt] (‘Love the Doctor’)locked

  • John C.G. Waterhouse


[Der Liebhaber als Arzt] (‘Love the Doctor’)

Comic opera in two acts by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari to a libretto by Enrico Golisciani after Molière’s play L’amour médecin; Dresden, Hoftheater, 4 December 1913.

After his uncharacteristic excursion into post-Mascagnian verismo in I gioielli della Madonna (1911), Wolf-Ferrari returned, in this sixth of his published operas, to that special vein of lighthearted satirical comedy in which he most often gave of his best. L’amore medico may not be quite as unfailingly polished and spontaneous as I quatro rusteghi (1906), but there is no question of mere self-repetition: the music contains some notable new departures, as well as having more than enough typically Wolf-Ferrarian sparkle to make it surprising that the work has remained so little known.

Whereas the composer’s two most remarkable previous comic operas had been quite closely based on plays by Goldoni, Golisciani’s adaptation of one of Molière’s shorter comedies is somewhat freer: in addition to converting the text (for much of the time) into Italian rhyming verse, he added many picturesque and theatrically effective details. Nevertheless the basic drift of the plot remains unchanged. Arnolfo (baritone) – equivalent to Molière’s Sganarelle – has a daughter Lucinda (soprano) whom he jealously wants to keep as his companion for the rest of his life. But the girl develops a mysterious debilitating illness. Ignoring the down-to-earth advice of his quick-witted servant Lisetta (soprano) – who insistently identifies the malady as the need for a husband – Arnolfo sends simultaneously for four doctors (tenor, two baritones and a bass), who pompously give contradictory diagnoses and are clearly interested only in their fees. Meanwhile, however, Lisetta has found a physician of a very different sort: he is in fact Clitandro (tenor), whom Lucinda already loves from afar. With Lisetta’s help this new young ‘doctor’ persuades Arnolfo to let him demonstrate his special technique: he declares that by ‘pretending’ to be a suitor, and by continuing the ‘charade’ right up to and including a ‘false’ marriage ceremony, he will surely and irreversibly cure the girl’s sickness, which is a sickness of the soul. Only when it is too late does it dawn on Arnolfo that not only was Clitandro’s wooing genuine, but so was the wedding itself....

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