The Met: Live in HD will present the comic opera Don Pasquale, by Gaetano Donizetti, on Saturday, November 13, 2010, in movie theaters everywhere. Directed by Otto Schenk, Don Pasquale will be conducted by Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine.
Anna Netrebko stars as Norina; Mariusz Kwiecien plays Dr. Malatesta; Matthew Polenzani plays young Ernesto; and John De Carlo plays the title role of Don Pasquale.
Tickets for the Saturday show are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $18 for children. (Encore performances for each opera in the series are held on Wednesday nights, two weeks after the Saturday opera, and-at least in my town-are $18 for everyone.)
I missed the second opera of this season, Boris Godunov, but I can still attend the encore performance on Wednesday, November 10.
I saw the first Met opera of the season, which was Wagner’s Das Rheingold. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I don’t know any German; that’s part of the reason. Even though the words can be easily understood with the subtitles, I prefer it when I know some of the foreign language-a personal thing. And also, my acquaintance with Wagner is pretty much limited to stereotypical images of Amazonian sopranos.
This opera arrived amid fanfare about the special effects created for it, showing the mermaids swimming in a panel of water. The mermaids were cute, and the water was interesting–but I’m not big on special effects, so I wasn’t wowed by that aspect of the production. And when the friend I went with said afterward that she had enjoyed the orchestral music, I realized that was what I liked too-more than the singing.
I’m really looking forward to Don Pasquale, on the other hand, because it’s a “bel canto” opera, which literally means “beautiful singing”–and that’s what I look for in an opera, mainly, beautiful arias. Donizetti’s Don Pasquale contains lovely, lyrical singing. It also has a very funny, fast and clever “patter duet” in Act II. This is going to be good!
I also look forward to Don Pasquale because it’s in Italian, a language that is musical in itself. And with a working knowledge of Italian, I can follow some of the libretto myself, aided by the excellent subtitles. That just brings an extra dimension of pleasure to the experience, for me.
Finally, Don Pasquale is a comedy, with lively action, broad humor, and a simple plot: The young Ernesto wants to marry Norina, but his uncle, Don Pasquale, forbids it. Pasquale will marry and produce his own heirs. Malatesta helps Ernesto by providing the bride Sofronia for Pasquale, who is Norina in disguise, and who turns out to be a nightmare of a wife. Pasquale is thrilled when he learns that his marriage was a fake, and gratefully agrees to Ernesto’s marriage to Norina.
The style of Don Pasquale is in the tradition of the “opera buffa,” a later development of the Italian “commedia dell’ arte,” a sixteenth-century entertainment characterized by stock characters. The “types” in this case are the beautiful young woman–Norina, the old man-Don Pasquale, the young man-Ernesto, the schemer-Dr. Malatesta, and the false official, a notary.
In an interview with Anna Netrebko and Maruisz Kwiecien on the Met’s website, they say the opera was funny, and fun to do. It’s their second time playing in Don Pasquale at the Met; the first time was in 2006 when it premiered, directed by the same Otto Schenk. They remarked on the physical comedy of this opera, which apparently involves somersaults!
Don Pasquale begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and lasts for three hours and fifteen minutes, with intermissions. I have a feeling the afternoon will fly by.
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The Met Don Pasquale