Don Pasquale | Gaetano Donizetti
In Donizetti’s Don Pasquale any kindliness is excluded, as the humourism is as irresistible as it is cruel. The protagonist is a wealthy old man who decides to marry in order to disinherit his nephew Ernesto, who is in love with Norina, a beautiful but penniless widow. The decision will cost Don Pasquale dearly! His friend, Dr Malatesta, comes up with a colossal deception which will eventually see the old man, mocked and ridiculed, accepting with a wry smile the adage spoken by his future daughter-in-law: “It is a stupid man/ who admires himself in old age”.
In this opera, farcical moments are rapidly followed by others of sentimental tenderness, such as Ernesto’s moonlight serenade which sent the Parisian audience into a frenzy on its debut evening in 1843. In this historic production, the ductility and reactivity required to deal with the different situations will be guaranteed by a double quartet of top-class specialists. The maestro Alessandro De Marchi, with his usual attention to the interpretative methods of the bel canto era, will conduct the orchestra though a scintillating score. The sets and costumes by Eugenio Guglielminetti position the events against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Rome, full of life and poetry, for the masterful direction of Ugo Gregoretti.
Lecture-Concert: Wednesday 17 January at 6 pm - Piccolo Regio Puccini
Comic opera in three acts
Characters and cast
Maria Grazia Schiavo
Francesca Pia Vitale
Simone Del Savio
Durante questa recita è attivo il Bimbi Club
During this performance the Baby Club is available
In the house of Don Pasquale.
Don Pasquale, an old and wealthy bourgeois gentleman, is impatiently waiting for his friend, Dr. Malatesta, who arrives with long-awaited news: he has identified a bride for Don Pasquale. He describes her: beautiful, naïve, honest and well-to-do, she possesses all the qualities that will make a man happy. He concludes by telling Don Pasquale that the person in question is his own sister. Excited about the idea of meeting the girl, Don Pasquale feels rejuvenated.He then confronts his nephew, Ernesto, reminding him that he would have made him his heir if he had agreed to marry the rich and noble spinster he had chosen for him. However, because of Ernesto’s obstinate refusal – he and Norina, a lively but penniless young widow, are in love with each other – he has no choice but to punish him, taking a wife himself and thus disinheriting him: Ernesto must therefore move out. Ernesto is deheartened: he certainly wanted to be his uncle’s heir, but only to be able to secure Norina’s happiness. Ernesto thus asks his uncle to consult Dr. Malatesta, and is shocked to learn that it was the same Malatesta – Ernesto’s friend – who suggested the marriage, proposing his own sister as the bride.
In the house of Norina
The reading of an epic poem, in which a knight is pierced by the glance of the woman he loves, makes Norina suddenly laugh. She herself knows very well how to fascinate a man with a glance and a smile. She is waiting for Malatesta, who mentioned a plot to trick Don Pasquale and force him to allow Ernesto to marry her. When the doctor enters, Norina confronts him with the letter in which Ernesto informs her about Don Pasquale’s latest decisions, and accuses him – Malatesta – of being a treacherous double-crosser. Malatesta reassures her and explains his plan: he will introduce Norina to Don Pasquale as his sister Sofronia. Norina will have no difficulty bewitching the old man: she’ll marry him in a mock ceremony and then drive him to despair...
In the house of Don Pasquale
Unaware of Malatesta’s plan, Ernesto cannot resign himself to the idea of having to renounce Norina, and considers finding refuge in a far-off land. He leaves, proclaiming that nothing in the world can make him forget his love for the girl. Don Pasquale waits for the arrival of the promised bride; when Norina comes in with Malatesta, he is immediately won over by her timid and reserved behaviour, and when she removes her veil, dazzling him with her beauty, he asks to marry her immediately. Malatesta goes out and quickly returns with a fake notary, with whom a marriage contract is drawn up which binds Don Pasquale to giving his bride half of his possessions. The arrival of Ernesto, who has come to bid farewell to his uncle, risks spoiling everything, but Malatesta manages to convince him to go along with the plan, and the young man participates in the mock wedding as a witness. As soon as the contract is signed, the bride’s behaviour abruptly changes: she begins to treat Don Pasquale with arrogance, demands that Ernesto be kept as her escort, requests that the number of servants be doubled and immediately arranges for the purchase of horses, carriages and new furniture. Amidst the amused comments of the three friends, Don Pasquale feels overwhelmed with terror and anger by the situation he has got himself into.
In the house of Don Pasquale
As Don Pasquale looks on in dismay, the servants busy themselves with satisfying all the requests of their new and demanding mistress. The old man adds up his wife’s crazy expenses, and then, irritated because she wants to go alone to the theatre on their first day of marriage, he confronts her; an argument arises at the height of which Norina/Sofronia boxes his ears. Don Pasquale begins to believe that the only way out is divorce. Then, when he finds a note inferring that Sofronia has a lover, he calls for Malatesta in order to seek his advice on what to do. The servants are astounded by the incredible confusion that suddenly begins to reign in the house. Before presenting himself to Don Pasquale, Malatesta takes leave of Ernesto with the final instructions about how to continue with the scheme. Don Pasquale reproaches Malatesta with the behaviour of his “sister”, shows him the note inviting her to an amorous rendezvous and states his intention to surround the meeting place with the servants in order to surprise Sofronia with her lover. Malatesta prevails upon him to resolve the situation with greater discretion. The two of them go alone to the appointment: if her infidelity is confirmed, Don Pasquale will turn Sofronia out.
In a thicket of the garden next to Don Pasquale’s house
Ernesto sings a serenade to the false Sofronia who meets him; they exchange words of love. Malatesta and Don Pasquale arrive, and Don Pasquale angrily confronts his bride. While Ernesto sneaks into the house, Sofronia protests her innocence: she was only there to get some fresh air. Don Pasquale wants to turn her out, but Malatesta silences him and tells him to let him lead the fun. Then he tells Sofronia that the next day another woman will arrive: Norina, Ernesto’s bride. Sofronia is indignant: she will never share her home with that shrewd, flirtatious widow. Don Pasquale can’t believe it! Malatesta calls for Ernesto and tells him that Don Pasquale will give him Norina’s hand and a suitable appanage. When Don Pasquale invites Ernesto to go immediately and call Norina, the plot is revealed, but Don Pasquale is so relieved by his lucky escape that, instead of losing his temper, he blesses the couple and wishes them happiness. Norina draws a moral from the story by stressing the foolishness of those who, marrying in old age, are only looking for trouble and pain.