Andrea Bernard © Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Donizetti Don Pasquale
Donizetti : Don Pasquale
The libretto is written by Giovanni Ruffini (although it bears the name of Michele Accursi), and is a rewriting of the 1810 libretto by Angelo Anelli for “Ser Marcantonio” by Stefano Pavesi. It is undoubtedly a comic drama, but Don Pasquale marks a point of arrival and a breaking point for the comic opera written by Donizetti. It is the culmination of an Italian comic tradition which lasts through the centuries and which is neither too farcical or too comical and is an opera in which the comedy is tinged with bitterness. It is the ancient plot by Donizetti which has been articulated into three concise acts, with the old man (Don Pasquale), thrifty and celibate, fooled by the offer of an innocent bride, and a cunning and wicked widow who loves (and is loved by) the nephew of Don Pasquale. Misunderstandings and disguises, transformations, expenses, fake weddings, simulated betrayal and insults, all leading the old man to curse his marriage until, on discovering the truth about the plot against him, he agrees to bless the wedding between the two youngsters. The libretto, in the dramaturgic definition presented by the music of Donizetti, is a model of efficiency and elegance: a well-contrived manual of comical situations set to the rhythm of cunning and topical theatrical intuition.
Source © Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
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Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
DON PASCUALE, A COMIC OPERA
Don Pasquale is a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti and takes place in three acts.
The opera was first performed, by Theatre-Italien, on 3 January 1843 in Paris at the Salle Ventadour. Donizetti's music and lyrical humour brings the comic opera to life. Pasquale is an old man who runs his crumbling pension with the help of a greasy cook, a chambermaid and an ancient porter.
The story of Donizetti's Don Pasquale is based in early 19th century in Rome, and it is a perfect setting to showcase the quirks of the clashing generations.
Pasquale, the reclusive old man, who likes cats, is a worried man as he fears that his wealth will be taken over by Ernesto, his scheming nephew. To avert this he wants to find a wife for himself and appears truly smitten when a young lady turns up in his life.
Pasquale wants to marry in order to produce a lawful heir and keep his scheming nephew, Ernest, away from his inheritance. Dr. Malatesta calls on Pasquale and suggests his younger sister as a befitting bride for the old man.
Pasquale is immensely delighted at the prospect of marrying and urges the doctor to immediately arrange for a meeting.
Ernesto loves Norina, a young widow and refuses to marry the woman chosen by his uncle, and as a result he has to forgo the house. Norina is on her terrace, reading a romance and appears amused at the feminine wiles of the story. She suddenly feels depressed by Ernesto's farewell note when Malatesta appears with his proposal of her impersonating as his sister and marry off Pasquale.
Ernesto is unaware of Malatesta's schemes and sits in his uncle's living room, grieving at the imminent loss of his beloved Norina. He leaves when his uncle arrives, who is getting ready to meet his bride-to-be. Pasquale feels youthful on meeting "Sofronia" and is willing to marry her immediately.
At the wedding ceremony, Ernesto enters and expresses his beloved's infidelity. But before he can foil the strategy, Malatesta informs him of the plan he has entered with Norina. So Ernesto becomes a willing witness of the contract. The Notary has sealed the contract wherein the fortune is bequeathed to the new bride, Norina. The trio celebrate their success while Pasquale is stunned to see his demure bride turn into a rebellious woman.
Pasquale is seated in his refurbished living room with a pile of bills incurred by his wife. Norina enters the room followed by servants carrying her purchases only to leave again for the theatre. She drops a letter which speaks of a meeting in a garden at night, with some suitor. Pasquale seeks the help of Dr. Malatesta who assures him that they will trap the couple red-handed. In the garden, while Ernesto and "Sofronia" engage in a song of love, Pasquale and Malatesta arrive but they cannot see her lover as he escapes quickly. Later when Ernesto proposes to marry his beloved, "Sofronia" claims to leave if another woman lives in the same house. Pasquale is glad to permit Ernesto to marry his love. Pasquale is stunned to find the true identity of his bride. He however realises that marriage cannot work right for an old man and agrees to the young couple's marriage.
THE MAIN ROLES
Don Pasquale, an elderly bachelor, bass
Dr Malatesta, physician, baritone
Ernesto, Pasquale's nephew,tenor
Norina, Emesto's beloved, soprano
Carlino,Dr Malatesta's cousin, bass
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