The company of The Elixir of Love at Lyric Opera Credit: Cory Weaver

This take on Gaetano Donizetti’s 1832 comic opera, L’elisir d’amore, is a two-act antidote for our COVID-plagued reality. Cleverly directed by Daniel Slater and beautifully designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, it’s another one-set production, but what a set!

In contrast to Macbeth’s interminable gray, this Elixir transports us to a sunny resort hotel in colorful 1950s Italy—palm trees, blue sky, crinolines, and cat’s-eye sunglasses. (As clichéd a concept as foggy Scotland? Yes, but it’s the cliché we need now.) The 200-year-old plot, pilfered at the time, is, in these deft hands, a still-funny and relatable rom-com, in which Nemorino, a poor waiter, falls hopelessly in love with an apparently unattainable woman, the sophisticated and glamorous hotel owner, Adina. Tenor Charles Castronovo turns in a to-die-for performance as Nemorino (the role that once launched Caruso), and soprano Ailyn Pérez aces both the comic drama and the bel canto vocal flourishes as Adina.

Nemorino ultimately wins Adina’s heart, of course, but not before some vexing competition from macho man Belcore, a muscle-flexing, cycle-riding naval officer, brought to comic life by baritone Joshua Hopkins. The happy ending is inadvertently triggered by snake oil salesman Doctor Dulcamara, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen. He’s a flim-flam man nearly upstaged by his own mode of transit, the not-really-lighter-than-air balloon that’s the production’s visual calling card.

The Elixir of Love
Through 10/8: Wed 9/29, 2 PM, Sat 10/2, 7:30 PM, Tue 10/5, 7 PM, Fri 10/8, 7 PM; Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker, 312-827-5600, $39-$319,

The Lyric Opera Chorus, under chorus master Michael Black, choreographed by Tim Claydon, has a starring role as lively and unique hotel workers and villagers. The whole thing, floating on Donizetti’s melodic score, played by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by music director Enrique Mazzola, and facilitated by super-smart supertitles (by Opera North, where the production originated), is winning and welcome.