Set in the Rome of the early 1950s, around the time of the enchanting film Roman Holiday, Opera Australia’s winter season production of Don Pasquale, Donizetti’s celebrated comic opera, is delightful. With its lyrical arias, warm and bright Italian street scenes, beautiful costumes and elegant sets complete with the latest in ultra chic 1950s furnishings, this opera is a visual treat.
One of Donizetti’s last operas, Don Pasquale is directed by Australian Roger Hodgman with designer Richard Roberts and lighting whiz Matt Scott. Distinguished bass Conal Coad, with his well‐honed comedy and renowned vocal artistry, drives the action in the title role. The versatile ensemble stars soprano Rachelle Durkin, tenor Ji‐Min Park and baritone Andrew Jones. Don Pasquale is conducted by Guillaume Tourniaire, the former chief conductor of Prague State Opera.
The comic plot centres on Don Pasquale, an elderly miser, who takes it into his head to disinherit his uppity nephew Ernesto (in love with Norina) by marrying and producing an heir. He asks his doctor to find him a suitable match. A marriage contract is hastily drawn up by the cunning Dr Malatesta between Don Pasquale and Malatesta’s ‘sister’ (the disguised Norina of course). With the ink barely dry, the shy and demure bride begins to create so much havoc that the groom is only too happy to pay to get rid of her.
Much merriment and misadventure ensues until the eventual reversal of fortune when Don Pasquale gives the young couple his blessing.
Sung in Italian, with English surtitles, Don Pasquale is performed in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House until Thursday 15 August 2013. Sandra Tiltman