Don Pasquale is the last, and in many ways the most sophisticated, of Gaetano Donizetti’s great trio of comic operas which includes L’elisir d’amore and La fille du régiment.
The wealthy Don Pasquale decides, despite his advanced years, to get married. Why? Is he in love? Not yet, anyway: he’s waiting for his friend Dr Malatesta to find him a bride. To sire a family? Possibly. But mostly to spite his nephew Ernesto whose current girlfriend is, Pasquale feels, entirely unsuitable for a family of this stature. Pasquale boots him from his house to make room for the new bride.
The girl the Malatesta delivers is none other than Norina, Ernesto’s girlfriend. It’s all a trick of course, but no one has informed the shell-shocked Ernesto. He works it out as soon as Norina transforms from the apparently docile convent-schooled maiden into a bossy dragon lady who sets about spending all of Pasquale’s money. Pasquale now has the opposite problem: how to get rid of her.
What sets Don Pasquale apart is its undercurrent of regret. The vain, foolish and avaricious Pasquale may deserve what’s coming to him, but Norina treats the elderly man with what approaches cruelty. She rues what she has to do … but does it anyway. Amidst the comedy, Donizetti, perhaps realizing that we all get old sooner or later, pulls us up short. In this, the swansong of bel canto comic opera, Donizetti has produced a layered romantic-comedy that is more than just fun, games and beautiful music.
In this session, we’ll go behind the lilting melodies and challenging arias and duets, and see how Donizetti’s all-too-human characters prefigure the ever increasing realism in Italian opera, even its comedies.
Fee for the opera talk: HK$200 per person （10% off for DA members and students）
Special Discount for DA MEMBERS for the upcoming performance of Don Pasquale, produced by Opera Hong Kong on 13-14 August 2022: discount of 15% on the $480 and $380 tickets.