Gaetano Donizetti

Don Pasquale

18 July - 24 August 2013
Festival 2013

Watch Don Pasquale on demand

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)

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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


Don Pasquale

Gaetano Donizetti

Recorded from the 2013 Festival

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Don Pasquale will be available to watch online until 31 August.

Main Content: 

Watch Acts 1 and 2

Watch Act 3

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Our next live stream will be Billy Budd on the 23 August.

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Act I

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.

Act II

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

Creative team

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

London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Audio files: 

Audio extracts courtesy of EMI Classics.

This recording is available to buy on CD from the Glyndebourne Shop

Don Pasquale (Alessandro Corbelli) in the Festival 2013 production. Photo: Clive Barda
Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, Photo: Clive Barda
Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, Photo: Clive Barda
Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, Photo: Clive Barda
Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, Photo: Clive Barda
Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, Photo: Clive Barda

“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."
The Stage

“A strong cast is conducted with élan by Enrique Mazzola.”
Rated 4* by the Daily Telegraph


We saw DP 14/08. We didn't like it at all. It was the most disappointing production of the season. Little of the humour of piece came over and the soprano and tenor were miscast. To cap it all the moral fulcrum of the tale , the good doctor, was presented as self interested puppet master. One to forget.

Don Pascuale was a triumph from every point of view. Costumes and sets were delightful, conductor and orchestra fizzed with energy and enthusiasm, the supporters were funny and the principals were superb. Danielle de Niese was quite amazing, her witty acting and that wonderful voice had us spellbound. A totally memorable evening of joyous opera.Icannot remember a better.This is what it should be like!

The happy smiling faces of the departing audiences say it all. Unlike another person commenting I much prefer this version to the tour ending. Pasquale sadly accepting a cup of tea just cracks me up.

Wonderful performance, full of joy and humanity. The cast seemed to enjoy the opera almost as much as the audience... never to be forgotten.

An almost perfect evening. An inventive and witty production which enhanced rather than detracted from the music. What a star Alessandro Corbelli is and Daniele De Niese gets better each time I hear her. The staff, with one exception were as courteous and helpful as ever The sun shone, the gardens were at their best. Just one thoroughly unpleasant car park attendant was the exception. But overall a delight from beginning to end.

WE saw Don P first about 10 days ago and enjoyed it so thoroughly that we returned to see it again yesterday, 11 August. All the principals were superb; the orchestra 'fizzed' and the sets were fascinating. The Chatelaine of Glyndebourne was just superb, in voice and in characterisation of the role. A delightful evening of operatic fun, all superbly done.

Thank goodness! After the horrors of Ariadne and Hypolite, Glyndebourne back on traditional wonderful form. Let us have more operas produced like Don Pasquale.

Very interesting and highly unusual to see an opera set in a period which predates its traditional one. Wonderful stagecraft and a beautiful finale- thoroughly enjoyed the evening and thought that Danielle De Niese was sensational.

Brilliant performance as ever

As always our evening was most enjoyable in every respect. Both the production, performance and dinner in the restaurant. The soprano possibly a bit shrill to start with but bl her voice grew on us !!!.

The telecast of the first 2 acts is great..but where is the conclusion to the opera??

Wonderful singing and production, but I have a question.

In the touring version the last few seconds of the opera had Norina run off with Malatesta. Not what Donizetti had in mind but nevertheless a delicious twist, and one that had been signposted throughout the evening.

I was looking forward to seeing the same in the festival version, but Norina stayed with Ernesto (albeit with significant looks between her and Malatesta).

Why did the director pull her punch?

Last night’s production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale was the perfect example of everything Glyndebourne signifies: a radiant afternoon in the gardens followed by a gorgeous evening, both musically and visually.

Mariame Clément and Julia Hansen provided an original and wonderfully entertaining production: whilst this opera is often played as a farce throughout, this production allowed the audience to reflect on some of the deeper and more thought-provoking aspects of the plot. Whilst it is undoubtedly a comedy, this production eschewed the temptation to present the characters as mere stereotypical caricatures, but as real human beings. For example, this production helped the audience to remember that there is clearly a darker side to the way in which Norina and Malatesta are happy to manipulate Don Pasquale, bumbling old fool that he may be.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Enrique Mazzola were as impeccable as ever and brought Donizetti’s score to life, with Mazzola effectively conveying his love for the music. The Glyndebourne Chorus was in fine form, effectively bedecked all in white. The traditional costumes were splendid and the pastel colours of the principals were imaginatively balanced, and enhanced the choreography.

Danielle de Niese is at the ideal point in her vocal development to tackle the difficult role of Norina, which she sang and acted with mesmerising attention to detail. Alessandro Corbelli as Don Pasquale and Nikolay Borchev as Malatesta demonstrated great ability both in their solo arias and in the difficult ensemble writing, managing the challenging ‘buffo’ writing with enviable ease. Alek Shrader was a very fine Ernesto, and his duet with Norina at the end was a wonderful musical achievement. The supporting performances of James Platt as the Notary and Anna-Marie Sullivan as the Servant were much appreciated contributions.

All in all, it is nigh on impossible to imagine a better overall performance of this opera, so thank you very much for such a wonderful night!

Donizetti’s Don Pasquale was such a success! Right from the very start of the opera I was blown away. The use of the rotating stage was so clever and in my opinion really helped set the scene of the opera for the audience.

The singing was outstanding. I was especially impressed by Alek Shrader and Danielle de Niese. As soon as Alek Shrader (Ernesto) started singing, I really realised just how beautiful music like this can become. I really think that Glyndebourne is lucky to have such amazing singers and I feel privileged to have been able to see them at the age of fifteen!

I thought that the use of the chorus as a ‘second audience’ was most interesting and especially added to the clever choreography of the opera.

I thought the opera was exactly what it was meant to signify: beauty and fun; light-hearted entertainment as well as having many moving passages – very well balanced.

Superb evening - the vibrancy, charm, charisma, and magnetism of Danielle de Niese in particular was fascinating, and the final duet between Norina and Ernesto - I was mesmerised...

A delight - one of our most enjoyable evenings at Glyndebourne in some 45 years - Ariadne, unfortunately, more or less the opposite.

A wonderful performance in every way, beautifully played and sung. But above all beautifully directed and set, the all white chorus being a particularly good touch. The production is so important; we have nothing against changing the period, past Theodora and Fidelio come to mind, but it must always be in support of the music. This period setting beat the inside of a fridge into a cocked hat, and how can one believe in Herne's oak in the 20th century?

Apart from the beautiful singing the acting was so very good - doubtless due to excellent directing.

Just seen Don Pasquale in the cinema in Derby. During the 30 minute interval there was a slide show of Glyndebourne productions which really saluted the talents of scenic designer/costume designer/lighting,but why,oh why could we not see the name of the productions on screen and the dates. It seems to me to be such an obvious thing to do,but was overlooked.

super production.
good to see some traditional sets and costumes in keeping with the era in which it was set-or thereabouts.
I'm an unashamed traditionalist and get fed with caravans and "jeans" in the eighteenth century.

Don Pasquale was a classic evening at Glyndebourne, a delightful frothy opera performed with the vivacity and skill that it deserved. The very difficult singing roles seemed to be achieved with ease and the quality of the performance was superb from every perspective. The charming setting provided the perfect counterbalance to the performances. The only thing wrong was that the rain came at the wrong time, but even that was warm. One of my guests, for whom it was a first experience of Glyndebourne, is determined to come again.

This was excellent,The staging was inventive and helpful
without being too "clever".

Thank you very much

Don Pasquale was super and great FUN. We felt refreshed when we left. What next?

Nigel & Janet

A very entertaining and well thought-out production of an opera that is perhaps rather more serious than it might appear at first. Very well sung and played with everyone giving a great performance.

Well worth seeing again.

Glyndebourne at it's very best!! A great evening. This has been a truly remarkable season with a brilliant "Aridane" a "Falstaff" that was one of the best I have seen and heard and now "Don Pasquale". Still "Billy Budd" to go. Well done to all at Glyndebourne.

We enjoyed Don Pasquale hugely. The performance was very good and seeing the apparently correct costumes added to the spectacle and enjoyment. I should like to add that however enjoyable other composers' operas may be we still prefer the Mozart and, perhaps, Handel operas to all others - Cosi next year? Thank you all; your volunteer helpers are always most courteous and helpful, especially the car park attendants. Congratulations to the stand-in for Ernesto!

The fact that Mariame Clement talks so freely of team involvement may well account for "The Stage" critique's description of Don Pasquale as "Glyndebourne at its best". I can only concur.
Having only ever seen the piece performed as crude farce in the past, it was wonderful to find gentle wit replacing slapstick and each scene revealing hitherto unnoticed nuances. Ernesto's serenade is a good example to choose to illustrate the care given to this production: sung most tenderly, and quite beautiful both musically and visually. Clearly Julia Hansen features predominantly in Miss Clement's team.
Sad that Alek Shrader was indisposed but I consider myself fortunate on this occasion to have seen Enea Scala whom I have not heard before. I shall catch up with Alek Shrader in the cinema.
LPO superb under a sparkling Mazzola and Glyndebourne's darling, Miss de Niese in outstanding form. It was a great way for me to end my personal Glyndebourne season.
Those who have not already seen it now have the truly world class Billy Bud yet to come and it is good that the season ends so positively without the unfortunate director's excesses which started it.

Thoroughly enjoyed it, so did my guests. From advance reports I was afraid the cynicism might be overdone, but it wasn't.

A very attractive and successful production especially because it was "period mode" and not modernised. All singers brilliant only regrettable that one had to be replaced due to throat problems.

The orchestra also performed brilliantly

A thoroughly enjoyable production to be remembered.

Great, what an evening! (opening night July 18th.)

Don Pasquale

Excellent. Most enjoyable. Have only experienced Donizetti from Lucia etc before so this opera buffo was a revelation.
And last time we came (and shivered for the umpteenth time) I asked if you could arrange a sunny evening in the gardens. Last evening was the perfect evening for dining and so good to see everyone return their tables after the end of the performance to sit and chat.

Chris Lowe

We saw this on the opening night and were delighted with it. Fantastic!

Having seen the production of Don Pasquale on tour a couple of years ago I was quite exited to be seeing it in the Festival this year, partly because Danielle de Niese was in the cast. I was not disappointed - it was absolutely stunning! Even by the high standards that we all expect from Productions at Glyndeourne this was an exceptional experience. Such fine singing from the whole cast.
After the interval, when it was announced that the tenor was unable to complete the performance due to illness there 'air of sadness in the house. This vanished as soon as his replacement opened his mouth! What a deputy Alessandro Scotto Di Luzio was. His duet with Miss De Niese was so stunning that I just had to ring GB today, to find his name.
It was announced as his 'House Debut' - I hope we can look forward to seeing him again in the future.
I am lucky to say that I will be seeing it again on 6th August and would advise all Opera lovers to see it at the Cinema on that night - if they cannot get a ticket1
Peter Hall

Wonderful performance & production. Bravo Glyndebourne. Everyone sang well including stand-in.
Performance on 18-7-13

We enjoyed Don Pasquale last night .The production was first rate and singing was also good.We thought the soprano was a bit shrill.Even the weather was good.Leon Kaufman

Opening night delightful from every point of view. The production has been re-thought since the tour and improved especially at the very end. Glyndebourne were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to recruit Enea Scala to sing the role of Ernesto when Alek Shrader became ill. Scala clearly knew the role and the production inside out having done so many performances in the tour and he sounded wonderful. Star of the show, as expected, was Danielle de Niese (Mrs Christie). As Gus earlier pointed out history repeating itself after a gap of 74 years.

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