Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Don Pasquale
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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Don Pasquale 

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, March 12, 2016, 1:00 P.M. (ET)

Broadcast Don Pasquale hdl 416
Malatesta (Mariusz Kwiecien) and Norina (Anna Netrebko) in Act I of Otto Schenk’s Metropolitan Opera production of Don Pasquale
© Beth Bergman
 
The 2015–16 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is
sponsored by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from The Annenberg
Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
The Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
 
Don Pasquale  
 
Music by GAETANO DONIZETTI
Libretto by GIOVANNI RUFFINI and the composer 
 
THE CAST    
(in order of vocal appearance)
Don Pasquale  baritone, AMBROGIO MAESTRI 
Dr. Malatesta  baritone, LEVENTE MOLNÁR  
Ernesto  tenor, JAVIER CAMARENA 
Norina  soprano, ELEONORA BURATTO 
Notary  tenor, BERNARD FITCH 

Conducted by MAURIZIO BENINI

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Otto Schenk
Set and costume designer: Rolf Langenfass
Lighting designer: Duane Schuler
Stage director: J. Knighten Smit
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Robert Morrison,
Howard Watkins, J. David Jackson,
Carol Isaac

Assistant stage director: Kathleen Smith Belcher
Prompter: Carol Isaac
Italian coach: Loretta Di Franco

Production a gift of
The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund  
 
THE SCENES    
Timings (ET)  
ACT I    1:00–
    Sc. 1 Pasquale’s house  
    Sc. 2 Norina’s terrace  
ACT II  Pasquale’s house –2:36
ACT III    3:12–4:05
    Sc. 1 Pasquale’s house  
    Sc. 2 Pasquale’s garden  
 
Host: Mary Jo Heath 
Commentator: Ira Siff 
Music producer: Jay David Saks 
Producers: Ellen Keel, William Berger 
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,  
Elena Park 
 
This performance is also being broadcast
on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM 
channel 74. 
 
Send quiz questions to Metropolitan Opera Quiz, 
Metropolitan Opera, 30 Lincoln Center, 
New York, NY 10023,
 

DON PASQUALE , Gaetano Donizetti's tart 1843 comedy of romantic intrigue, entered the Metropolitan Opera's repertory on December 23, 1899, in a performance at the Freundschaft Club in Manhattan. When the opera had its first hearing at the Metropolitan Opera House, on January 8, 1900, it was offered as half of a double bill — a practice that seems curious today, considering Don Pasquale's three-act structure, but which persisted in most of its presentations by the Met for the next seventy years. The Met first paired Pasquale with Cavalleria Rusticana but over the years offered the Donizetti opera with a variety of companion pieces that ranged from lighter fare, such as Hansel and Gretel, La Serva Padrona and Victor Herbert's Madeleine, to works as unremittingly dark as Il Tabarro and Pagliacci. In all Met performances of Don Pasquale since 1970, the opera has been presented on its own.

Don Pasquale had been absent from the Met for more than twenty years when Otto Schenk's sparkling staging of the opera had its premiere in 2006. Two of the original stars of the Schenk production, Anna Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien, return to the Met this season to repeat their much-admired performances as Norina and Malatesta.

THE STORY 

ACT I. At home, Don Pasquale, a wealthy old bachelor, waits impatiently for his friend, Dr. Malatesta, who brings news that he has found a bride for Pasquale — his sister Sofronia — and describes her beauty and noble nature. Sending Malatesta to fetch this paragon, the old man is beside himself with anticipation; the thought of her has rekindled his youthful ardor. The reason for Pasquale's precipitous marriage is the refusal of his nephew, Ernesto, to marry the bride of his uncle's choice. Pasquale has sent for Ernesto, who once more rejects the proffered match; he is in love with the young widow Norina. Pasquale promptly disinherits Ernesto, advising his nephew to find other lodgings, as Pasquale plans to marry for himself. Ernesto, his hopes in ruins, determines to break his engagement rather than doom Norina to poverty. As a last resort, he asks his uncle to consult their mutual friend Malatesta before making a hasty decision; he is devastated to learn that it was Malatesta who made the match.

Norina, reading a romance, says she knows the heroine's secret of how to kindle love. She is waiting for Malatesta, who wants her help in playing a trick on Don Pasquale. When the doctor arrives, she has just received a letter from Ernesto, accusing Malatesta of complicity in Pasquale's folly and breaking off their engagement. Malatesta assures her that if she will help implement his plan, Ernesto will soon change his tune. The doctor means to pass Norina off as his sister, marry her to the unwitting Pasquale in a false wedding ceremony and leave it to her to teach the old man a lesson. Norina agrees to play her part on the condition that Ernesto not be kept in the dark too long, and the two exult in the cleverness of their scheme.

ACT II. In Pasquale's house, Ernesto bemoans that the loss of his fortune and fiancée is compounded by his friend's betrayal. Resolving to live out his life in lonely exile, faithful unto death to his lost love, he withdraws. Pasquale, dressed to the nines, preens as he awaits his bride-to-be. Malatesta leads in "Sofronia" — actually Norina in disguise — explaining that she is fresh from the convent. Pasquale apostrophizes her beauty and modesty, as she laughs to herself that he is in for a rude awakening and Malatesta admires her wiles. When she lifts her veil, the conquest is complete. Malatesta sends for the false notary, who draws up a marriage contract signing over half his possessions to his wife and declaring her the lady of the manor. As Norina is signing, Ernesto's voice outside throws her and the doctor into confusion. When he enters to bid his uncle farewell, Pasquale presses him into service as a witness. Ernesto is stupefied to recognize Norina and starts to protest, but Malatesta intervenes, warning the young man to play along for his own good. No sooner has the notary declared them man and wife and taken his leave than "Sofronia" begins asserting her rights, insisting that Ernesto stay, as a more suitable walking companion for her than the elderly, portly Pasquale, and warning her husband that if he defies her he will regret it. She and Ernesto, who has caught on to the trick, smother their laughter as Malatesta pretends astonishment at the change in his sister's persona, urging Pasquale to stand up for himself. When "Sofronia" starts planning a lavish wedding feast, Pasquale rages that he has been betrayed. Malatesta tries to calm him as Ernesto, aside, begs Norina's forgiveness for having doubted her.

ACT III. Don Pasquale sits amid a pile of bills; as an army of servants files in and out of "Sofronia"s chamber, he complains that she is planning to go out on her wedding night and resolves to put his foot down. "Sofronia" enters on her way to the theater; when he tries to stop her, she slaps him. He is mortified, and Norina suffers a pang of remorse at having to teach him such a hard lesson. Pasquale tells her that if she leaves, she need never return and threatens to divorce her. She departs, dropping a note from an unknown admirer arranging a rendezvous. Pasquale, beside himself, sends for Malatesta, determined to expose her infidelity.

The servants complain of their mistress's caprices and penchant for scenes. They exit hastily at the arrival of Malatesta and Ernesto, who are finalizing the details of their plot: Ernesto, disguised, is to play the lover's part in the rendezvous. Malatesta sends him away and waits for Pasquale, who arrives in such a pathetic state that Malatesta is moved to pity. Pasquale laments that he would have given Ernesto a thousand Norinas rather than come to this pass. He complains of Norina's abuse, then shows the letter to Malatesta, who feigns astonishment and seconds Pasquale's desire for vengeance; Pasquale plans to have his servants surround the garden and surprise the lovers, but Malatesta, noting that the scandal will reflect ill on "Sofronia"s husband and brother, proposes that they keep it in the family by setting the trap themselves: once her guilt is proven, Pasquale can cast her off. Pasquale gleefully anticipates revenge, while Malatesta muses that it is Pasquale who will be caught in their trap.

That night in the garden, Ernesto revels in the romance of a spring night as he awaits Norina. She sneaks in, and they declare their love. At the arrival of Pasquale and Malatesta, Ernesto, cloaked, withdraws. Pasquale and Malatesta confront "Sofronia" and begin to search the garden as Ernesto enters the house. Pasquale threatens to throw Norina out, but she points out that according to the terms of their marriage contract, the house is hers. Telling Pasquale to leave everything to him, Malatesta explains to his "sister" that a new bride will be coming to live there: Ernesto's intended, Norina. "Sofronia" retorts that she would sooner leave the house than cohabit with such an infamous widow, but she is skeptical; Malatesta persuades Pasquale that the only way to get rid of her is to allow his nephew's wedding to take place in her presence. He summons Ernesto, and Pasquale urges him to fetch Norina right away, promising him a generous income. Once Pasquale is committed, Malatesta reveals "Sofronia"s true identity. The old man is affronted at their deception, but when Ernesto and Norina kneel to ask his forgiveness, he embraces them, and all join in proclaiming the moral of the story: romance is for the young.

THE BACKGROUND  

The opera had its U.S. premiere in New Orleans on January 7, 1845. Its first presentation by the Met came on December 23, 1899, at the Freundschaft Club in Manhattan, with Marcella Sembrich and Antonio Scotti. The Met's current production, by Otto Schenk, was unveiled on March 31, 2006. 

WHAT TO READ AND HEAR  

William Ashbrook's Donizetti and his Operas (Cambridge) is the best general guide to the composer and his work.

On CD, Carlo Sabajno's 1932 set, originally released on HMV and now available on Opera d'Oro, has plenty of style and the unparalleled Ernesto of Tito Schipa. Sarah Caldwell paces Donald Gramm's neatly turned Pasquale for EMI; Thomas Allen's Malatesta steals the show on Roberto Abbado's recording (RCA). Chandos's English-language performance features Andrew Shore's vivid Pasquale and Barry Banks's honeyed Ernesto. Juan Diego Flórez includes Ernesto's airs on "Una furtiva lagrima" (Decca).

The best Don Pasquale on video is the 2006 Zurich Opera production by Grischa Asagoroff, with Nello Santi pacing Juan Diego Flórez, Isabel Rey, Oliver Widmer and Ruggero Raimondi. Stefano Vizioli's lighthearted staging from Cagliari (2002) has Alessandro Corbelli, Roberto de Candia, Antonino Siragusa and Eva Mei as its deft principals (TDK DVD and CD). spacer 



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