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Don Pasquale review at Royal Opera House London

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Isabella Bywater’s set for Jonathan Miller’s production, brought in from Florence, is an enormous doll’s house with three floors divided up into rooms and staircases where the action of the classic comedy takes place. The plot has its origins in the popular Italian theatre of commedia dell’arte – the elderly Don Pasquale decides to punish his nephew Ernesto by marrying a young woman himself, thereby disinheriting him. He is fooled, of course, by his ‘best friend’ Dr Malatesta, and learns his lesson by the happy end.

It is a top-notch cast. Simone Alaimo is an experienced Pasquale, able to convey the character’s blend of ridiculousness and pathos without descending into buffoonery. He is wonderfully partnered in a comic double act by Buston Keaton-faced baritone Alessandro Corbelli, whose Malatesta has every buffo skill at his command.

Nor will you ever hear the role of young Ernesto sung and acted with more charm and elegance than it is here by Juan Diego Florez, today’s leading tenore di grazia. Newcomer Moldovan soprano Tatiana Lisnic is a precise and determined Norina – Ernesto’s girlfriend and Pasquale’s false bride – but she needs a little more warmth to prevent the character becoming unsympathetic.

Conductor Bruno Campanella also needs to deliver the score with more bite and sparkle, but any deficiencies in the pit are more than made up by Miller’s unfailingly clever and inventive staging. Vocally and visually, this is a delightful evening.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London , November 27, 30, December 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17

Composer
Donizetti
Director
Jonathan Miller
Producer
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Simone Alaimo, Alessandro Corbelli, Juan Diego Florez, Tatiana Lisnic
Running time
2hrs 45mins

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