Don Pasquale

The characters

Learn more about the characters in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale

Don Pasquale

  • Elderly, old-fashioned bachelor
  • Economical
  • Credulous
  • Obstinate
  • A good fellow at bottom

Photo: Clive Barda

Premiere cast: Signor Lablache

Commedia del arte character type: Pantalone

The Pantalone was one of the most important characters of Italian comic operas – often wealthy, greedy and naïve.


  • Nephew of Don Pasquale
  • Youthful
  • Enthusiastic
  • Requited lover

Photo: Clive Barda

Premiere cast: Signor Mario

Commedia del arte character type: Pierrot

In contemporary culture the Pierrot is often portrayed as a sad, pining clown.


  • Young widow
  • Impatient
  • Genuine and affectionate

Photo: Clive Barda

Premiere cast: Signora Grisi

Commedia del arte character type: Columbina

The Columbina Character is often smart, manipulative yet of a lower class.

Dr Malatesta

  • A skilled strategist
  • Jocular
  • Resourceful
  • Doctor and friend of Don Pasquale
  • Very close friend of Ernesto

Photo: Clive Barda

Premiere cast: Signor Tamburini

Commedia del arte character type: Scapino

Scapino is related to the English word, “escape”. The character is a schemer and proud of it.

The Chorus

One of the major developments in Italian opera during the 19th century was the emergence of the dramatic chorus.

While operas had long included big choral numbers at the end of acts, it was only around this time composers began to treat the chorus almost as another character – the chorus could add its own drama and musical personality to the opera.

Photo: Clive Barda

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