Introducing... Don Pasquale

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The latest in our Introducing series looks at the Festival 2017 revival of Donizetti’s sparkling comedy Don Pasquale.

In this short video director Mariame Clément talks about the unique appeal of the opera and what she wants the audience to take away from her production.

Need to know

Don Pasquale is a tuneful tale of a romantically deluded old bachelor and the young lovers who scheme to outwit him. This fast and funny comedy is a wonderfully accessible piece perfect for audiences of all ages, especially if you’re considering a family outing this Festival.

Danielle de Niese as Norina and Alessandro Corbelli as Don Pasquale in the Festival 2013 production of Don Pasquale. Photo: Clive Barda.

As in many bel canto operas Donizetti drew inspiration from the Italian commedia dell’arte tradition, but the piece is more nuanced and multifaceted than it may appear at first glance:

‘Unexpected subtlety, in the score and the libretto, is probably the key to Don Pasquale. The characters are drawn from traditional figures in the Italian commedia dell’arte, but they are far from being stereotypical puppets. None of them is completely likeable or completely obnoxious. This makes Don Pasquale far more interesting than a standard comedy.’
—Mariame Clément, Director

You can find out more about the history of the opera and how this production was created by visiting our interactive online guide to Don Pasquale.

Why this production?

With a production inspired by Les liaisons dangereuses, this Don Pasquale is a visually stunning piece. Its lavish sets and costumes effortlessly evoke its 18th-century setting, as you can see in this trailer:

As Mariame explains, the set is a key part of her vision for the opera:

‘Designer Julia Hansen and I decided we wanted the set not to just be a backdrop, but to be almost a character of its own, an active part of the storytelling. For Don Pasquale we created a revolving set, which is full of surprises. We call it our ‘jewel box’. It initially presents the characters in their ‘natural environment’ and each costume corresponds to one specific room, but as the piece goes on the rooms and costumes start mixing.’
—Mariame Clément, Director

Cast and creative team

Festival 2017’s Don Pasquale will be a showcase for some fresh and exciting new talent, with the conductor and three of the four leads making their Glyndebourne debuts.

Giacomo Sagripanti was the recipient of the prestigious Young Conductor prize at the 2016 International Opera Awards. He has conducted bel canto operas in top houses all over the world.

International Opera Award winning conductor Giacomo Sagripanti makes his Glyndebourne debut with Don Pasquale in Festival 2017. Photo: Henry Fair.

The title role will be played by Italian-born baritone and experienced bel canto performer Renato Girolami.

Norina will be played by Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa. Lisette is a regular at the Metropolitan Opera, appearing in over 100 performances, most recently as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro.

Lisette Oropesa will play Norina in Don Pasquale in Festival 2017.

Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky will sing the role of Dr Malatesta. A regular performer at the Bolshoi, he is currently singing the title role in Eugene Onegin at the Islenska Operan (Icelandic Opera).

Playing Ernesto is US tenor Andrew Stenson, first-prize winner in both the 2015 Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition and 2016 Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition. He previously appeared at Glyndebourne as Brighella in the Festival 2013 production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

Things to look out for

This sumptuously designed production is a visual and vocal feast, with stand-out moments for all four leads and some breathtaking ensemble moments for the Glyndebourne Chorus, which you can see in ‘I diamanti, presto, presto!’ from Act III:

Enhance your experience

Insider talk
Defining a look – make-up and wigs in Don Pasquale, Monday 14 August

Pre-performance talk
Join us for a bite-sized overview of the opera on Wednesday 9 August

The Festival 2017 Programme Book will feature an exploration of comedy in Donizetti’s operas by Francesco Izzo. The Programme Book is published in May 2017.

Don Pasquale is generously supported by the Dunard Fund