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Introducing... Don Pasquale

We take a look at Mariame Clément’s much-loved production of Donizetti’s comedy, Don Pasquale.

We take a look at our much-loved production of Donizetti’s comedy, Don Pasquale.

In the video below Alexandra Coghlan meets comedian Chris Addison and director Mariame Clément to talk about the opera’s irresistible blend of humour and romance.

A brief introduction

Don Pasquale – almost the last opera Donizetti would write – is the culmination and climax of a whole career. The composer takes all his extensive experience of the theatre and pours it into this deceptively nostalgic, lightweight comedy that displays as much invention and expertise as any of his mature tragedies.

Miserly old bachelor Don Pasquale vows to get married and produce an heir so he can cut his feckless nephew Ernesto – who is determined to marry the poor widow Norina – out of his will. But lovers Norina and Ernesto set a trap for Pasquale, scheming with Dr Malatesta to marry Pasquale off to his ‘sister’ (really Norina in disguise) and make his life such a misery that he’ll consent to anything just to get rid of his troublesome wife. Romantic and domestic conflict ensues…

Full of sparkling solo numbers and dazzling ensembles, this fast-paced farce tumbles from laughter to love and back again in a second. There’s plenty of musical sweetness, but also a sharp edge to a comedy that cuts to the heart of human nature.

Why not to miss this production

Mariame Clément’s darkly ‘astute’ staging (‘hitting the mark with sure but unemphatic touch’) moves Donizetti’s action back in time – from the 19th-century to the 18th, with its sumptuous wigs, dresses and interiors. Julia Hansen’s elegant designs provide a period dolls house to frame action with contemporary psychological edge: ‘buffa as blood sport’, as one critic described it.

Donizetti’s comedies can be frothy affairs, but Clément delivers both laughs and darkness, in a production that isn’t afraid to show the cynical underbelly of this uproarious domestic farce.

A great moment to look out for

Our first encounter with heroine Norina is in her mischievous Act I aria ‘Quel guardo il cavaliere…So anchio la virtu magica’. Reading a romantic, chivalric novel, she tosses it aside, telling us that she knows the real secrets of love and desire (as opposed to fiction’s clichés). The aria that follows the classic two-part slow/fast structure.

First Norina paints a knowing picture of all the tricks of love – a tear, a smile a glace – in a jaunty, worldly melody. In the faster cabaletta her attention turns to herself and her own romantic skills. Giddy with confidence and youth she works herself up into an effervescent musical frenzy that sets the tone for this sparkling comedy of manners.

Cast and creative team

José Fardilha stars in the title role, with Erin Morley as Norina, Huw Montague Rendall as Malatesta and Josh Lovell as Ernesto.

Ben Glassberg (Principal Conductor of Glyndebourne Tour) conducts.

Below you can watch Huw Montague Rendall’s performance of ‘Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!’ from The Magic Flute.

Supported by William Lock with a Syndicate and Circle of individuals
Bring world-class opera to the stage in Festival 2022

Don Pasquale is available to support from £5000+
Join a Production Circle or Syndicate
Contact our Director of Development, Helen McCarthy –

Image credits: Illustration © Katie Ponder | Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, photos by Clive Barda

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