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Teatro Regio, Tuesday 14 April 2009 - Sunday 26 April 2009
The action takes place in Rome
Don Pasquale (“old, unmarried, old-fashioned, naïve, stubborn, a thoroughly good man”) has decided to get married: since his nephew Ernesto has refused to marry the noble and rich spinster he proposed, he wants to disinherit him, throw him out of the house and then leave everything to the young wife his friend, Doctor Malatesta, has found for him. Yes, Don Pasquale will marry Sofronia Malatesta, the doctor’s sister. He communicates the news to the astonished Ernesto, who has refused his uncle’s proposals because he is in love with Norina, a widow Don Pasquale considers to be a pauper. In reality, the wedding is a practical joke that Malatesta wants to play on Don Pasquale to convince him that he should let his nephew marry Norina. Sofronia, in fact, is none other than Norina.
Ernesto is desperate: he knows nothing yet about the practical joke, and he is being forced to leave his uncle’s house. Norina, alias Sofronia, presents herself, veiled, to Don Pasquale; she is fresh from a convent and very timid. The old man, fascinated by her beauty and seriousness, requests that they proceed immediately to the ceremony. A fake notary celebrates the wedding. Ernesto comes to say goodbye to his uncle and discovers that the bride is Norina! Malatesta quickly informs him about the joke, and the docile Sofronia, now Don Pasquale’s wife, immediately changes character: that nephew must remain in the house because, being young, he can be her escort. Then, the furniture is old and should be changed, the number of servants needs to be increased and horses bought…Don Pasquale is distraught.
Don Pasquale is checking the bills he has to pay: all of his wife’s crazy expenses, from the milliner to the jeweller. Sofronia is going out to the theatre, Don Pasquale tries to stop her and she boxes his ears. The old man thinks that, at this point, the only solution is divorce. In the meantime, he finds a note on the floor in which a man makes an assignation in the garden with his “beloved Sofronia”. He tells Malatesta everything and the two of them decide to station themselves in the garden to surprise the two lovers.
Concealed in a cloak, Ernesto courts Sofronia, but when Don Pasquale arrives, he manages to steal away. Sofronia denies that she has a lover, and Malatesta then informs her that the next day, in that same house, another woman will arrive: Norina, Ernesto’s bride. Sofronia is offended: if another woman comes, she will leave. If this is the only way to free himself of Sofronia, Don Pasquale will accept his nephew’s marriage. Ernesto then reveals the joke to his uncle: Sofronia and Norina are the same person. Don Pasquale has learnt his lesson: “I’ll forget everything, be happy; as I unite you, so do the heavens”.