‘Boredom at the Paris Opéra has long been a truism. A tasteful, aristocratic boredom, perhaps, but boredom is boredom and, even at the risk of compromising the dignity of both audience and opera house, the authors of Le Philtre have sought to find a cure for this and entertain the stalls at last. Grandiose poems, magnificent stagings, the din of brass instruments were all suddenly replaced by joyful chords, a cheerful libretto and rural backdrops.’
– Revue des théâtres, 1831
The two leading operatic composers of their time were Rossini and Auber, one now fêted, the other largely overlooked. In 1831 Auber and his long-standing librettist Eugène Scribe produced Le Philtre, which took the concept of petit opéra to the extreme, even outdoing Rossini’s Le Comte Ory in depicting a rural setting peopled not with Arcadian shepherds but with ordinary country folk. Auber’s Franco-Italian style can be heard in the work’s ensembles, while elsewhere the opera shimmers with rich arias, buffo elements and delightful cavatinas. Le Philtre was an unalloyed success receiving 243 performances and inspired Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.