An International Co-production
Donizetti's 'Don Pasquale'
impresses GIUSEPPE PENNISI
impresses GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Don Pasquale is Donizetti's most frequently performed opera. Although it is called a drama buffo, musicologist Walter Ashbrook rightly says that it is a 'romantic comedy' with nineteenth century rather than the eighteenth century values. As in Mozart's drammi giocosi, the characters are not just stereotypes but are humanized and the melodies mirror the emotions they express. At the 1843 premiere, the four roles were entrusted to the best singers of the time. It is still a 'war horse' for important singers.
A special feature of the Don Pasquale seen and heard at the Teatro Pergolesi in Jesi on 13 November 2015 is that it is a co-production shared between thirteen theatres. In addition to the Pergolesi Spontini Foundation in Jesi, where the stage sets and costumes were prepared, the other theatres are Opera Lombardia (Bergamo, Como, Cremona and Pavia) and the French theatres of Clermont Ferrand, Reims, Limoges, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Massy, Avignon and Vichy. They all seat audiences of between 600 and 800, with stages quite similar in size. About fifty performances are planned over a six months period. The basic team of principal singers and the conductor generally do not change, but the orchestras and choruses vary according to local availability. Such an international co-production allows employment of a high quality team, by ensuring artists comparatively long contracts.
In 1843, Don Pasquale was conceived by Gaetano Donizetti (who wrote the libretto with Giovanni Ruffini) as a contemporary opera with the plot based in Rome. The stage director (Andrea Cigni) and the author of sets and costumes (Lorenzo Cutùli) maintain the location in Rome but set the action in the nineteen fifties when Rome was a major center of American movie production referred to as 'Hollywood-on-the-Tiber'. The set is dominated, on the one hand, by a huge safe where the stingy Don Pasquale keeps his wealth, and on the other by a very pretty garden where Norina and Ernesto exchange their feelings of love. The plot works well, even though there is more emphasis on the funny aspects than on the melancholic dimension of the protagonist's ageing.
Paolo Bordogna is Don Pasquale: he is a veteran of the role, both in Italy and abroad, and the author of several recordings. Paolo Garcia Ruiz (a young baritone, already on the international scene) is the smart and tricky Dr Malatesta. A real surprise is the young Pietro Adaini as Ernesto with his clear timbre, strong volume, and the ability to keep the high texture required for the role. He received open stage applause and ovations at curtains calls. Maria Mudryak (as Norina) is a twenty-one-year-old soprano born in Kazakhstan but trained in Milan; she is already an accomplished actress and promises to develop as an excellent soprano. I feel, however, that with the sound density of her voice, she would be more suitable in dramatic roles rather than as a light lyric soprano.
Last but not least, conductor Giuseppe La Malfa kept the balance between the comic and pathetic aspects very well.
There were accolades for all at the end.
Copyright © 22 November 2015 Giuseppe Pennisi,