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Donizetti’s entertaining comedy of equivocations
Teatro Regio, Tuesday 14 April 2009 at 8 pm
Don Pasquale, the opera buffa in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti, on the libretto by the same composer and Giovanni Ruffini, based on a subject by Angelo Anelli, will open on Tuesday 14 April at Teatro Regio. With this work, an acclaimed masterpiece of the buffo gendre, the Teatro Regio re-proposes a successful production dating from the end of the 1980s, directed by one of the masters of Italian musical drama: the writer, journalist and director Ugo Gregoretti. The sets and costumes are by the late great Eugenio Guglielminetti (1921-2006), the painter and sculptor who chose the theatre as his favourite form of art, becoming one of the most active and highly appraised contemporary stage designers. On the podium of the orchestra of the Regio is the young and talented Michele Mariotti, who, at the age of only 30 can boast of a career of great importance. The chorus will be directed by Maestro Claudio Fenoglio. Don Pasquale will be broadcast live by Rai Radio3 on 14 April.
Among the last and most mature works of comic Italian opera, Don Pasquale was premiered in Paris, at the Théâtre Italien, on 3 January 1843 to great success. Despite being written in only ten days, Donizetti has given us a work of exemplary linguistic cohesion, connoted by a far-reaching description of a bourgeois environment. Defined as the “height of opera buffa”, Don Pasquale still maintains the traditional roles of the commedia dell’arte but abandons the excess of stratagems and dramatic turns of events, moving the interest from the contrived plot to a human portrayal of the characters and leaning decidedly towards sentimental comedy. The success of the opera, as every production testifies, is also due to the development of an interpretive taste that has become more and more respectful of the artistic prominence with which Donizetti’s music has gained a stable position among ever-popular works.
The protagonist of the story is the elderly Don Pasquale, who intends to throw his nephew Ernesto out of the house, guilty of having refused to marry an old spinster, being instead in love with Norina. Determined to disinherit him and get married himself, Don Pasquale asks his friend Malatesta to find him a wife, but Malatesta sets a trap in order to help the two lovers. He has Norina, disguised as Sofronia, marry Don Pasquale in a mock ceremony. At that point, the fake wife does everything to make herself intolerable: she devotes herself to mad purchases, organises expensive parties at home, and even leaves compromising letters about an extra-marital affair of hers lying around. Don Pasquale, by now terrorised by married life, consents to his nephew’s wedding to free himself of the wife who threatened to leave him at the announcement of the arrival of another woman in the house. At this point Ernesto reveals the practical joke to his uncle and Don Pasquale, having learnt his lesson, wishes happiness to the two lovers.
In the cast, the best singers of the latest generation, with a veteran of the calibre of Roberto Scandiuzzi who, after his success in tragic roles, takes on the comic character of Don Pasquale for the first time. The part of Ernesto will be entrusted to Francesco Meli, a tenor of growing popularity. Norina will be interpreted by Serena Gamberoni, the young soprano with a light and agile voice, the wife of Francesco Meli . Finally the baritone Gabriele Viviani, for the first time at the Regio, will appear as Dottor Malatesta, a role particularly congenial to him. During the course of the performances, Carlos Chausson (Don Pasquale), Bruce Sledge (Ernesto), Daniela Bruera (Norina) and Massimo Cavalletti (Dottor Malatesta) will alternate in the title roles.
Don Pasquale, on stage for nine performances through 26 April, will be presented to the public by Daniele Spini in the Incontro con l’Opera [Get-together with the Opera] which will take place at the Piccolo Regio Puccini Wednesday 1 April at 5 pm.
Torino, 20 February 2009
Head of the Presso Office