Don Pasquale

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Drama buffo in three acts by Giovanni Ruffini
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
First performance: Paris, Théâtre-Italien, 3 January 1843
Critical edition by Roger Parker and Gabriele Dotto © Casa Ricordi, Milan with the collaboration and contribution of the Municipality of Bergamo and the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti


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In 1843, Gaetano Donizetti was one of the most celebrated European opera composers and divided his time between Italy, Vienna and Paris. It was here that, on 3 January, his Don Pasquale was performed at the Théâtre-Italien, a Parisian outpost of Italian opera with an exceptional singing company. Donizetti recycled an old libretto written by Angelo Anelli for Stefano Pavesi, Ser Marcantonio, and had it freshened up by a Mazzinian exile, Giovanni Ruffini, but imposing so many changes on him that he was, in practice, a co-author. The libretto was later published anonymously with the initials “M. A.”, which stands for the nominee Michele Accursi, Donizetti’s Parisian factotum. The opera was an immediate success and is one of not many Donizetti titles to have always remained in the repertoire, although in editions that were often heavily tampered with and incorrect. The Donizetti Opera will present, for the first time, the new critical edition edited by Roger Parker and Gabriele Dotto.
In Don Pasquale, Donizetti reworks a very predictable and trivial comic event, already brought to the stage countless times. All the characters are very traditional: the fooled buffo, the viperous primadonna, the sighing tenor, the manoeuvrer baritone. However, Don Pasquale is not only the last masterpiece of the great Italian buffa tradition, but also the first of the new times. Woven with waltzes and galops – the music of its time – this bourgeois comedy looks ironically to the past but is permeated with Romantic lyricism: the moment when Norina slaps Pasquale is almost tragic, and the whole opera lives on a wonderful balance of laughter and tears. The Festival presents it in a staging by the Opéra de Dijon, directed by the renowned German director Amélie Niermeyer, conducted by Iván López Reynoso and featuring two stars of the international opera scene such as Roberto de Candia and Javier Camarena, supported by the young talents of Bottega Donizetti.


In Rome, the old and rich Don Pasquale da Corneto has decided to disinherit his nephew Ernesto, guilty of having refused the hand of a rich spinster because he is in love with Norina, a beautiful and witty but poor young widow. Despite his age, in order to have an offspring Don Pasquale therefore decides to marry and instructs Dottor Malatesta to find him a wife. Malatesta, who is actually a close friend of Ernesto’s, extols the virtues of his “sister” Sofronia, who is not only beautiful but also a model of domestic virtues and feminine modesty. Don Pasquale unceremoniously throws Ernesto out of the house, while Malatesta joins Norina to instruct her to play the role of Sofronia, which the girl masters perfectly.
The time to introduce the two future spouses comes. Sofronia appears veiled, shy and blushing; Don Pasquale is won over, so much so that he decides to draw up the marriage contract immediately with the complicity of a cousin of Malatesta’s who pretends to be a notary. Just at that moment Ernesto arrives, who knows nothing of the deception, but Malatesta manages to make him understand it right away. The wedding is over: having become Don Pasquale’s “wife”, Norina-Sofronia changes completely and begins to ransack the house and keeps wasting money, to the (fake) surprise of Malatesta and Ernesto and the (real) consternation of Don Pasquale.
While the servants make gossipy comments on the upheaval of domestic habits, Norina-Sofronia makes to leave and go to the theatre to enjoy herself. Don Pasquale tries to stop her, but his wife slaps him in the face, orders him to go to bed and goes out anyway, leaving as if by chance a note mentioning a nocturnal meeting in the garden. For Don Pasquale, it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He summons Malatesta and they decide to catch the lovers in the act. Preceded by a serenade, Ernesto arrives and flirts with Norina. Don Pasquale and Malatesta surprise them; Ernesto manages to vanish unrecognised; Don Pasquale, tired of married life, announces to the self-styled Sofronia that he will call Ernesto back and allow him to marry whomever he wants. All that remains is to unveil the deception: the old man is so happy not to be married for real that he blesses Ernesto’s marriage to Norina. And he learns his lesson.

November - 2024


Time and Date:
17 November 2024Turn CH 15:30
22 November 2024 Turn AH 20:00
30 November 2024 Off subscriptionH 20:00
Cost: €16 - €120


Teatro Donizetti

Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour
Bergamo, Italia


Conductor Iván López Reynoso
Director Amélie Niermeyer
Scenes and costumes Maria-Alice Bahra
Choreography Dustin Klein

Don Pasquale Roberto de Candia
Ernesto Javier Camarena
and with Students of Bottega Donizetti

Orchestra Donizetti Opera
Coro dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Choirmaster Salvo Sgrò

New production by the Fondazione Teatro Donizetti
Staging by the Opéra de Dijon