Harrison Ford and Michael Douglass did the math—half your age plus seven. Don Pasquale didn’t, and that’s why this opera is so much fun. Opening this Friday, November 15, Opera in the Heights will delve into this ancient trend with Donizetti’s clever, comedic opera. Old or young, if you’ve never really gotten opera, this is a good place to start.
For Don Pasquale, marrying a younger woman is less about status and more about patriarchy and lineage. What else is an old, rich man to do when his nephew Ernesto—the only conceivable relative to whom he might leave his fortune—refuses to marry the woman Don Pasquale chooses for him? Obsessed with siring an heir of his own, Don Pasquale seeks out the blooming (and presumably fertile) Norina—his very own Anna Nicole Smith in a convent disguise. A dash of the didactic rounds out this comedic affair: Norina, Ernesto, and their faithful friend Dr. Malatesta concoct a romantic ruse that quickly humbles Don Pasquale.
Don Pasquale plays to OH’s strengths. Delight waits in every aria, and comedy is something at which OH excels. A standout last season, OH’s Falstaff came off with an expert balance of hilarity and grace. And if OH’s season-opener La Traviata is any indication, the orchestra will make Donizetti’s score something you’ll want to hear, too.
Known for its bel canto-style arias, Don Pasquale makes for some lush singing. Bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo returns to OH as Don Pasquale with a voice made for the bel canto rigmarole (give him a listen here). Be on the alert in Act III when Eric Bowden sings “Com’e gentil” as the heartthrob Ernesto—it’s one of the great opera arias. Julia Engel and Katie Dixon share the role of Norina—an OH debut for Dixon and an anticipated return for Engel, who sang the role of Nannetta in Falstaff last season. Wesley Landry and Octavio Moreno also split the role of Dr. Malatesta.
OH fosters a new generation of opera-lovers on both sides of the curtain. It takes care to showcase up-and-coming opera stars and offers $12.00 student tickets to any performance. While this opera was written in 1842, the story is no less timely than today’s Huffington Post. If you go see this show, expect to have fun, and bring an (age-appropriate) date.
Don Pasquale opens Friday, Nov 15 and runs through Nov 24. For tickets and more info, check out their website.