Donizetti was an enormously prolific composer – Don Pasquale is the 64th of his 66 operas, and was written only a year before the onset of the syphilis-induced dementia that was eventually to overwhelm him. In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that the diamond-bright wit and brilliance of this opera also has a distinctly dark side.
Don Pasquale is a man no longer in the first flush of youth who nonetheless hopes to marry and produce an heir, being dissatisfied with the current holder of that position, his nephew Ernesto. He intends to disinherit Ernesto, who has had the temerity to fall in love with Norina, an impoverished widow. The plot thickens, twists and turns from this point, as Pasquale’s supposed friend, Doctor Malatesta, assists Ernesto and Norina in a complex and increasingly vindictive deception.
Following her acclaimed debut as Adina in the 2011 Festival production of L’elisir d’amore, Danielle de Niese continues her exploration of Donizetti, performing the role of Norina.
The celebrated Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli sings the title role.
When Mariame Clément’s production, designed by Julia Hansen, first appeared on the Glyndebourne Tour in 2011, The Daily Telegraph hailed it as an ‘astute and elegant staging […] depicting a bitter, poignant comedy of human folly’ and for The Independent on Sunday it was ‘a Don Pasquale with an edge; peppery and pungent’.
Listen to Don Pasquale podcast (24:09)
Live broadcast to cinemas and online on 6 August 2013, venues and booking details are available on the 'In Cinemas' tab.
A revival of the 2011 Tour production
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Property of Casa Ricordi, Milan (Universal Music Publishing Ricordi Srl) by arrangement with G. Ricordi & Co. (London) Ltd
Supported by Handel and Yvonne Evans
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Don Pasquale will be available to watch online until 31 August.
The elderly bachelor Don Pasquale, at his house in Rome, awaits his friend Dr Malatesta, who has arranged a marriage for him. The bride, Malatesta tells him, is beautiful and innocent, and happens to be Malatesta’s sister.
Don Pasquale reminds his nephew Ernesto that he has offered to wed him to a wealthy lady on pain of disinheritance if he refuses. Ernesto refuses again; he intends to marry the impoverished Norina.
At home, Norina scoffs at a romantic novel. Malatesta arrives and tells her of the scheme he has hatched to help her and Ernesto marry. Norina will be introduced to Pasquale as Malatesta’s sister Sofronia, fresh from the convent. After they are ‘married’ by a false notary, Pasquale will be at their mercy.
Disowned by Pasquale, Ernesto feels he cannot ask Norina to share his poverty.
Malatesta arrives at Pasquale’s house with ‘Sofronia’, apparently shy and afraid of men. Pasquale proposes and she accepts. Malatesta’s false notary draws up the contract, making Sofronia mistress of the house and owner of half of Pasquale’s goods. The ceremony done, Sofronia instantly transforms into a domineering, spendthrift shrew and appoints Ernesto her escort.
Don Pasquale, his home completely revamped by Norina/Sofronia, examines the bills with horror. Norina enters, dressed up to go to the theatre. Pasquale tries to stop her, but ‘Sofronia’ treats him harshly. As she leaves, she deliberately drops a piece of paper. Pasquale discovers that it is a note from Sofronia’s lover arranging a tryst in the garden that evening. Pasquale sends for Malatesta and shows him the note. They agree to confront the lovers in the garden that night.
Later, in the garden, Ernesto serenades Norina, and they sing of their love. Pasquale and Malatesta spy on them and then ambush them, but Ernesto escapes unrecognised. ‘Sofronia’ denies her guilt and refuses to leave, but Malatesta persuades her that she cannot stay, as Norina is to arrive tomorrow as Ernesto’s bride. Pasquale is thus forced to accept Ernesto’s chosen wife in order to get rid of his own. When the truth is finally revealed, Pasquale forgives the youngsters and all are reconciled.
Synopsis by George Hall
Conductor Enrique Mazzola
Director Mariame Clément
Designer Julia Hansen
Lighting Designer Bernd Purkrabek
Don Pasquale Alessandro Corbelli
Norina Danielle de Niese
Malatesta Nikolay Borchev
Ernesto Alek Shrader
A Notary James Platt
Servant Anna-Marie Sullivan
“The simplicity and charm of this production make it a Glyndebourne classic”
Rated 4* by the Financial Times
“Danielle De Niese’s performance, so animated and nuanced, is one of the evening’s highlights”
Rated 4* by The Times
"...Glyndebourne at its best."
“A strong cast is conducted with élan by Enrique Mazzola.”
Rated 4* by the Daily Telegraph