The farcical plot centres on the decision of rich and lecherous old bachelor Pasquale to find himself a young wife and to kick out of his mansion his lazy, sponging nephew Ernesto. This plan, as one might expect, horrifies Ernesto, but Pasquale’s doctor, the scheming Malatesta, comes to the rescue.
He will introduce Pasquale to his own sister, Sofronia, a humble convent girl, who will make a perfect bride. For the old man, it is a dream come true and he marries her without delay.
Sofronia immediately turns into a domineering spendthrift, for she is not Sofronia at all, but Ernesto’s fiancé Norina, whom Pasquale forbade his nephew to marry.
Despairing at his life and finances being ruined, Pasquale readily agrees to Ernesto taking the wretched girl off his hands.
It’s a silly plot, of course, but Donizetti’s wonderfully lively music and Clément’s imaginative staging, augmented by some very funny additions by revival director Paul Higgins and a cast bursting with great singing and comic talent, it all adds up to a wonderful romp.
The Chilean bass-baritone Ricardo Seguel plays the title role with great humour, while South Korean tenor Konu Kim brings a beautifully rich voice and many delightful comic touches to the part of Ernesto.
With Russian baritone Konstantin Suchkov and Italian soprano Mariam Battistelli also adding considerably to the fun and the glorious singing, this production is as near perfect as anything one could hope for.
With the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Bloxham holding everything together impeccably, this is superb entertainment.
After two weeks at Glyndebourne, this production will go on tour to Canterbury (The Marlowe), Milton Keynes (Milton Keynes Theatre), Norwich (Norwich Theatre Royal), and Liverpool (Liverpool Empire), where each city will see one performance each of Don Pasquale, The Rake’s Progress (by Stravinsky) and Handel’s Messiah.
Mercifully, after almost two years absence, our theatres are back and deserve our support. But if you can only manage to see one thing, I can thoroughly recommend this production of Don Pasquale.
Wherever you are, this is certain to be the funniest show in town ‑ and don’t worry about them singing in Italian ‑ the subtitles tell all that you need to know.
For dates and full details of the tour, see glyndebourne.com/tour (01273 815000)