Glyndebourne’s production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is in one word a delight. Briefly, it follows the story of Don Pasquale, an old man in his 70’s who wants a wife as his nephew Ernesto who lives with him, refuses to marry anyone but the woman that he loves, who also happens to be poor. Don Pasquale’s doctor, Dr Malatesta decides to have some fun and manipulate Don Pasquale in to ‘marrying’ someone- Norina and making his life hell, to have Don Pasquale realise he should let Ernesto marry whom he wants (who happens to be Norina). With most opera, the plot is crazy, wacky and unbelievable, but that’s why it works! Opera for me is heightened reality which creates heightened emotion, bringing all of that to the forefront is nothing short of sublime.
This production is very creative (and downright hilarious) a circular stage which as it rotates shows different sets- three sets in one, rotating as the action moves from place to place. During the overture the Dr was walking through the rotating stage, as the stage was rotating, showing us the different sets and characters, getting in to each set through wardrobes, windows, baths, very well done and extremely funny, setting us up for what we should be expecting: wackiness and hilarity.
Whilst every singer was good in their part, Lisette Oropesa who played Norina was nothing short of a revelation. It wasn’t just her singing that stole the show but her acting abilities, her last laugh instead of being sung, coming out as a snort, her actions, every movement that Oropesa made on that stage was exactly the right one to make and I am not surprised that at the curtain call it was her who made the building cheer, stomp and clap louder than for anyone else.
The other person that for me stood out was the conductor- Giacomo Sagripanti who conducted in a way that I have never seen before, you could see his passion, at times he was bent down so low to face a particular part of the orchestra it felt like he was trying to get in there with them. He masterfully conducted not just the orchestra but the singers too, who were watching him closely at times, this is a conductor who truly ruled the stage and made it better for it. A young talent and one worth watching, for me definitely the future of how conducting should be.
For the younger people reading this, I went to this performance as part of the under 30’s day where if you are 30 or under you can get tickets for £30, a huge discount for great seats (I was second row in the Stalls) and gives us a fantastic opportunity to try somewhere new and to expand our love of opera- it definitely worked for me, I can’t wait to go back next year.