The plot thickens as an old bachelor’s romantic delusions are dashed in a complex deception. This fast and funny comedy is a wonderfully accessible piece, perfect for a family outing.
Best availability in late July and late August.
A story of deception, vanity and folly
The old bachelor Don Pasquale decides to marry and produce an heir just to spite his disobedient nephew Ernesto, who insists on marrying for love rather than money.
Pasquale’s friend Dr Malatesta provides the perfect bride. But Malatesta is a double agent, and nothing and nobody are quite what they seem. Chaos ensues, but love wins the day.
Donizetti’s bel canto gem
The perfect entertainment for a summer night, Don Pasquale is as effervescent and quintessentially Italian as a glass of Prosecco.
Its irresistibly lilting score bursts with the feel-good tunes, long lyrical lines, daredevil florid singing and sheer vocal beauty that define the bel canto style.
Mariame Clément’s colourful production, inspired by Les liaisons dangereuses, is set in the opera’s original 18th-century milieu, echoing the elegance of Donizetti’s music.
Its period forms and contours are filled out with modern details that match the score’s playfulness.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.
Enhance your experience
Defining a look – make-up and wigs in Don Pasquale, Monday 14 August
Join us for a bite-sized overview of the opera on Wednesday 9 August
Don Pasquale is generously supported by the Dunard Fund
Cast and creative team
Conductor Giacomo Sagripanti
Director Mariame Clément
Designer Julia Hansen
Lighting Designer Bernd Purkrabek
Don Pasquale Renato Girolami
Norina Lisette Oropesa
Dr Malatesta Andrey Zhilikhovsky
Ernesto Andrew Stenson
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Gaetano Donizetti – Don Pasquale (Cricial Edition by P. Rattolino)
Property of Casa Ricordi, Milan (Universal Music Publishing Group)
By arrangement with G. Ricordi & Co. (London) Ltd.
Dates and times
Date Start Long interval Finish Price band Thu 13 July 5.50pm 7.25pm 9.40pm 2 Sat 15 July 5.50pm 7.25pm 9.40pm 2 Tue 18 July 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 2 Sat 22 July 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 2 Tue 25 July 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 3 Fri 28 July 5.50pm 7.35pm 9.40pm 2 Sun 30 July 4.35pm 6.10pm 8.25pm 2
Date Start Long interval Finish Price band Wed 2 August 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 3 Sat 5 August 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 2 Wed 9 August 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 3 Mon 14 August 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 3 Thu 17 August 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 3 Sun 20 August 4.35pm 6.10pm 8.25pm 2 Wed 23 August 4.50pm 6.25pm 8.40pm 3
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.
Words: George Hall
Photo: Clive Barda