Five Films That Share Themes with Donizetti's 'L'elisir d'amore'

Five Films That Share Themes with Donizetti's 'L'elisir d'amore'
Promotional consideration provided by Cineplex.

There are plenty of operas about unrequited love, and arguably just as many to feature magic and witchcraft. Still, few have had quite the same impact on pop culture as Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love).

The piece, which debuted in 1832 at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan, shares plenty of familiar beats with modern romantic comedies, as a man attempts to woo his lover with a magic potion.

In addition to its familiar premise, L'elisir d'amore also feels familiar because of its stunning character development and the fact that it's actually funny.

Cineplex broadcast a live performance of L'elisir d'amore by the Metropolitan Opera in select theatres across Canada on February 10, and will air encores on March 17, March 19, March 21, March 24 and April 1. To prepare you for the show, we've drummed up five films that share similar themes with the piece.

Love Potion No. 9 (1992)

Before she was a household name, Sandra Bullock starred in a number of semi-obscure rom-coms. Among them was Love Potion No. 9 — the directorial debut from My Cousin Vinny screenwriter Dale Launer. Proving just how far back love potions go in pop culture, the film takes its name from the 1959 song by the Clovers. In it, Sandy plays a lovesick scientist who tries out a potion that makes her irresistible to the opposite sex.

Practical Magic (1998)

For some reason, Sandra Bullock's early career is littered with films about spinster witches using magic for romance. In Practical Magic, she and Nicole Kidman play witch sisters who are doomed to never find love. In the film, she develops "Amas Veritas" — a hyper-specific anti-love spell intended to fend off a man she doesn't think exists. It's the opposite intention, but has the same effect.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Of course, L'elisir d'amore is not just a film about potions. On a deeper level, it's really about the desperate things people will do for unrequited love. One can't help but be reminded of Steve Carrell's bumbling foibles in the wildly successful Judd Apatow comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which showcases the ridiculous lengths one man will go to for some romantic attention.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

When potions are involved, there's no better place to look than the Harry Potter franchise. The sixth film in the series, 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ron Weasley accidentally ingests Amortentia. The unbelievably powerful elixir causes its consumer to become overwhelmingly infatuated with the person who administered it. That said, the potion cannot recreate true love — only obsession.

The Love Witch (2016)

The cyclical nature of pop culture means the concept of love magic was made retro with Anna Biller's cult classic 2016 film The Love Witch. An homage to the Technicolor films of the 1960s, The Love Witch is a bright, vintage horror comedy about, well, a love witch who uses her abilities to make men fall in love with her.