Don Pasquale at Glyndebourne. Review by Emily Nye, Year 8.
Posted: 9th November 2015 | Category: Year 6, Year 7, Year 8
Year 6, 7 and 8 went to Glyndebourne opera house to see the Donizetti’s Italian opera Don Pasquale. We were all very excited as it is not every day you get to go to one of the best opera houses in the world!
At the start the orchestra began to play and we all settled down: we could not wait for it to start.
The story of Don Pasquale is quite the opposite of simple, however amazing the opera makes it.
Don Pasquale does not want his nephew, Ernesto, to marry a lady named Norina. If he does he will be disinherited. We are told this from a rather dramatic introduction of music.
Don Pasquale decides to get married so that he can have an heir to his riches that is not Ernesto in order to teach him a lesson.
Don Pasquale’s Doctor, and Ernesto’s best friend, Malatesta, encourages Don Pasquale to get married and actually suggests his sister as a potential bride. This is done at the end of the bass and baritone duet - sung brilliantly. Little does Don Pasquale know that Malatesta is plotting against him with Norina.
Don Pasquale decides to tell Ernesto what happened in an extreme duet. Ernesto, uninformed of the plot, feels betrayed and unable to marry Norina and bring her into poverty.
Meanwhile Norina reads aloud her letter as Malatesta enters and they sing this amazing duet about their plot to pretend Norina is Malatesta’s sister ‘Sofronia’, marry her to Don Pasquale with a fake notary, drive him mad so they divorce (but they were not really married anyway) and then reveal it after Don Pasquale said that he would not disinherit Ernesto if he married Norina. It was quite an intriguing piece. And that was only Act 1!
We had a little break and everyone was loving it! You could
really feel the excitement in the room. We could not wait for it to start again.
The curtain rises and we are greeted by a lonely solemn Ernesto singing a beautiful song about how he will always love Norina even though he cannot marry her into the poverty that awaits him. A quick spin of the set and we are shown Don Pasquale admiring himself in a mirror singing about how amazing he is and looks in this hilarious costume with his face painted white.
Then Malatesta introduces a shy, respectful ‘Sofronia’ fresh out the convent. Don Pasquale instantly wants to marry her. She eventually agrees and the ceremony was to be held immediately and Malatesta had conveniently brought a notary who was ridiculous! He kept on coming in at the wrong time and was not ready when he should have been, but it was supposed to be like this. The notary (who was not actually a notary) took his role all too seriously and demanded a second witness just as Ernesto enters and has this fantastically drastic, appalled, slightly disturbed look on his face when he sees Norina getting married to his uncle and starts singing about how depressed he must be that he is having delusions. However Malatesta manages to fill him in on the plot and stop him giving it away.
There is a brisk change from a kind convent girl to a bossy wife who appointed Ernesto as her escort, and refuses to be seen dead with Don Pasquale. In a final quartet Norina, Ernesto and Malatesta laugh at Don Pasquale who is complaining about what happened. That song was probably my favourite part of the entire opera!
We had a nice long break to get some fresh air and there were only optimal statements.
Everyone re-entered the auditorium and the music started pumping out.
We are shown many more servants and plenty of expensive items that Don Pasquale must pay for. Soon ‘Sofronia’ enters all glammed up saying she is going out, and this is on their wedding night! They started arguing ending with a slap for Don Pasquale and ‘Sofronia’ flouncing off leaving a letter for Don Pasquale to find. I thought Don Pasquale was particularly excellent in that scene. Don Pasquale asks for Malatesta to cure him or kill him.
Malatesta arrives and Don Pasquale starts moaning (beautifully) that he would give Ernesto 100 Norina's if he could get rid of ‘Sofronia’. Then he announces that he wants to catch the lovers in the act and take them to court. Malatesta being a quick thinker tells Don Pasquale to just spy on ‘Sofronia’ to see if she is cheating on him: if she is he can throw her out. This scene was told humorously, despite the seriousness of the scenario, because they were prodding each other with guns and playing around.
Ernesto and Norina are singing together for the first time in the whole opera! Quickly Don Pasquale and Malatesta arrive but Ernesto is already gone and Don Pasquale is worried he will never be able to rid himself of ‘Sofronia’. Malatesta suddenly suggests the marriage of Norina and Ernesto and ‘Sofronia’ replies that she could not possibly live with another woman in the house! Don Pasquale immediately agrees that Ernesto and Norina marry at once! Ernesto overhears this and says he is about to introduce Norina. Don Pasquale agrees but is extremely confused when he sees ‘Sofronia’ walk towards Ernesto and have him introduce her as Norina.
Don Pasquale is good humored and the opera closes with Norina's beautiful solo explaining the moral: old men should not get married as it will cause them trouble!
Everyone loved the performance, the sets were brilliant, costumes marvellous and the actors even more so. I’m sure everyone wants to see it again.