Program booklet »Don Pasquale«

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DON PASQUALE Gaetano Donizetti




A Mix of Youthful Élan and Nostalgia → Interview with conductor Jesús López Cobos


When the Staging is Written in the Music → Interview with director Irina Brook


A Composer, Surpassed only by Rabbits → Oliver Láng


28C: Obstacles to Love → Adrian Mourby


Don Pasquale → Daniel Brandenburg


Rolling Pin at the Ready! → Bettina Eibel-Steiner


The Unequal Couple → Andreas Láng


Performance History in Vienna → Oliver Láng


DON PASQUALE → Dramma buffo in three acts Music Gaetano Donizetti Libretto Giovanni Ruffini & Gaetano Donizetti

Orchestra 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, violin I, violin II, viola, cello, double bass Stage music 1 trumpet, 2 guitars, 1 tambourine Length 2,5 hours, including 1 interval World première 3 January 1843, Théâtre-Italien, Paris Première at the Court Opera Vienna 4 October 1879


The old, wealthy, but miserly bachelor Don Pasquale wants to marry off his nephew Ernesto: to a wealthy woman. Ernesto however prefers the young, destitute widow Norina, who loves him. Although Don Pasquale has never seen Norina, he rejects the marriage – and throws Ernesto unceremoniously out of his house. Despondent, Ernesto writes a farewell letter to his beloved Norina. But Norina will not give Ernesto up... Don Pasquale’s new plan is now get married himself – and his friend Dr. Mala­testa is to help him in this endeavour. Malatesta however sticks by Ernesto and contrives a complex plot in which Norina and Ernesto have a part to play: Norina is to be presented to the bachelor as Malatesta’s well brought up sister Sofronia, who grew up in a convent. Don Pasquale is enchanted by this silent, virtuous creature – and enters into sham marriage arranged by Malatesta (but which Don Pasquale believes to be real). Immediately after the wedding, Sofronia (= Norina) changes her behaviour. She turns into a lavish, loveless, snappish shrew who terrorizes Pasquale and is – obviously – deceiving him. To get her out of the house again, Don Pasquale wants to give ← sites: his nephew Ernesto not only a rich dowry, but also a home again, along with Previous scene Norina (whose real identity is still unknown to him). Sofronia’s true identity KS Juan is then revealed. He has to learn his lesson: a man of the older generation → Diego Flórez as Ernesto, 2015 should not try to court a younger woman... SY NOPSIS


A MIX OF YOUTHFUL ÉLAN AND NOSTALGIA Jesús López Cobos, conductor of the première, talks to Andreas Láng

You studied philosophy as a young man. Why does one study philosophy when one wants to become a conductor? Well (laughs), I would put it differently: I studied philosophy for the sake of philosophy and only later decided to become a conductor. But the knowledge I gained in my studies stands me in good stead time and again in my career in music. JESÚS LÓPEZ COBOS

How is that?

← Dmitry Korchak as Ernesto, 2020

Like all humans, composers are the children of their time. And we know not only in the case of Richard Wagner that the greats like Schopenhauer, Kant, Leibniz and whatever their names may be, definitely left their mark on the creations of various artists. So it is certainly not a bad thing, especially for a performance artist to know how composers thought and lived, and what intellectual world they lived in.




You have a very broad concert and opera repertoire. What attracts you to or interests you in particular about a comic opera like Don Pasquale? Don Pasquale is a masterpiece, from the first note to the last. It may be an opera buffa, but it is one with a few drops of sadness mixed in and which turns out to have a large dash of melancholy and gives us a bluntly realistic look at human foibles and weaknesses. In the end Don Pasquale is left as the only loser – the happy ending cannot disguise that fact. The individual characters generally exhibit a multi-faceted, psychological depth that makes them seem very modern. In addition, the score positively brims over with melodic richness. The mix of youthful élan and nostalgia of Donizetti when he was no longer youthful is something I personally appreciate in the music of this opera. It’s almost as if he was thinking as he composed: «Heavens, it was wonderful when I myself was young and healthy.» At all events, you can sense that Donizetti derived great pleasure from Don Pasquale. JLC

Half a century passed between Don Pasquale and the next great Italian opera buffa, Verdi’s Falstaff. Why such a long break? JLC

Because at this high level it is much harder to make people laugh than it is to make them cry. Your first première at the opera house on the Ring was Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore...

That was over 30 years ago. It’s interesting to see how much has changed since then in terms of Donizetti performance tradition or rather bel canto performance tradition. Today I would do several things in L’elisir d’amore differently from the way I did them back then. For one thing, the former custom of cutting parts of the work – for whatever reason – has given way to being more true to the original. For example, in this production we are playing Don Pasquale completely without cuts. JLC

Apart from in performance tradition, what are the musical differences between the two comic Donizetti operas, L’elisir d’amore and Don Pasquale? The two works are separated by more than ten years, and you can hear very clearly that in these ten years Donizetti wrote many dramatic and tragic operas. Donizetti manifestly carried many of his compositional accomplishments from these dramatic works forward into Don Pasquale, even though it is a comic opera. JLC



For example? In the orchestration. The orchestration for Don Pasquale is much richer and denser than L’elisir d’amore. Throughout the score we have a lot of brass, both trombones and trumpets as well as percussion. That was completely out of the norm for an opera buffa. In general the score contains a great deal of action and movement in the orchestra, as well as the perceptible influence of advancing industrialization, and therefore noise and hustle and bustle in the cities of that time. One of the challenges for the conductor is therefore to ensure that the buffo character, the lightness and the right balance with the singers is maintained, despite this orchestration. Another difference lies in the recitatives. In L’elisir d’amore we have recitativo secco, in other words recitatives accompanied by the harpsichord or pianoforte, whereas here in Don Pasquale all the recitative is accompagnato, in other words with orchestral accompaniment. JLC

Which is easier for the conductor: recitativo secco or accompagnato? The breaks for the orchestra and the conductor with recitativo secco interrupt the flow, which means we have to get it restarted each time. For this reason I prefer recitativo accompagnato, as we have in Don Pasquale. JLC

Is Don Pasquale a piece that is relatively easy to conduct or is it a challenging piece? Tullio Serafin pointed out how difficult and ungrateful bel canto operas are for a conductor. The conductor must accompany the singers, but at the time also lead them. And since the individual orchestra parts don’t appear to be that exciting at first glance, the conductor often has to encourage the musicians to play with spirit. In the final analysis, the audience must have the impression that everyone is making music together, but getting to this point with bel canto is more difficult than for example with German repertoire. JLC

As with all new productions, you have attended every rehearsal, including the staging rehearsals. Why? I don’t think it very smart for a conductor not to attend the stag­ing rehearsals. At these rehearsals, each bar of music is repeated over and over, and if wrong tempi or musical mistakes are not corrected at this point – and this is something only the conductor can do – these mistakes become so ingrained that they are almost impossible to eradicate later. Quite JLC



apart from that, I want to watch the development of a production; for one thing, I intervene if musical aspects are affected, for another I can become familiar with the staging. During performance, you have to know where the singer is standing, lying or sitting on the stage at all times, so that you give their entrance facing the right direction. As conductor, do you prepare a basic concept for your interpretation before you come to the first rehearsal, or does the interpretation emerge in the course of rehearsals? It’s both. For example in the case of Donizetti, there are no precise tempi given by metronome markings. You have to set the individual tempi relation to each other – and to do that you need an overall concept, a complete structure, which you bring to the first rehearsal. But how fast the various tempi that must be placed in context then actually are, that will be determined not just by the text, by the situation, the atmosphere, but also by the stage direction and the personality or the vocal skills of the performers. That requires flexibility. For this reason, there is no absolute interpretation even for one and the same performer of a certain piece. Quite apart that, everyone involved is subject to and exposed to all kinds of interferences and influences on a daily basis, which in turn have an impact on the performance. JLC

Do you yourself notice that your approach to a work changes over the course of the years? Yes, certainly. You are constantly adding experience – that goes without saying. But your disposition also changes: the older you get, the more nostalgic your view of nostalgia, and the more cheerful your view of happiness. JLC

Does that mean more pessimistic? JLC

More worldly-wise would perhaps be a better expression. The interview took place in 2015.



Herbert Weinstock

« The world première of Don Pasquale at the Théâtre-Italien on 3 January 1843 was the high point of Donizetti’s life as a composer. »

WHEN THE STAGING IS WRITTEN IN THE MUSIC Director Irina Brook talks to Oliver Láng

What is actually the essence of a good comedy? For me, what makes a good comedy is that it’s not just funny, but there is always the other side of the coin, which is the tragedy. Focusing solely on the comedy is not enough. I think there always have to be feelings that are associated with a comedy. Gags without feeling are not funny to me, not interesting. There must be an emotional foundation. So what is brilliant in the writing of Don Pasquale is that in this comedy Donizetti is always looking for the contrast with the comedy. In scene after scene and situation after situation. He creates something that taken as a whole shows both sides of the coin. And on the side he invites us to let our comic imagination to go wild. IRINA BROOK

ere those factors that struck you when preparing your first concept W for Don Pasquale? ← Andrea Carroll as Norina (Sofronia), 2016

IB No, in practice you discover as you rehearse it just how well



written this opera is.

Was that emotional foundation always important to you? The kind of comedians I have always have loved are the ones who are very touching. The mean sort of laughter, of comedy, has never been great comedy for me. What actors like Jacques Tati have is a great humanity, so there is something very touching about them. And that is a determining factor in Don Pasquale. On the one hand he is ridiculous, but he is also very touching. IB

How is timeless is humour? Do you try to make humour that will work in 20 years or do you try to follow a tradition? I’ve never thought of such a question. For me, humour is instinctive and not an intellectual question. To me, being funny is not something intellectual that you can think about. Naturally there is a craft to comedy, there are techniques, but for me it’s not something that’s obviously technical and thought out. So I don’t ask the question whether it will still be funny next year. Because it’s human, humour is timeless – at least I think it is. I don’t think that comedy has changed very much, because people haven’t changed very much. If you look at Shakespeare or any of the great writers in cultural history, you see that the same themes keep recurring. Why? Because people have not changed at all. They still possess the same traits, problems, qualities, flaws and so on that they have been dealing with for centuries. So they are still jealous, in love, treacherous, cunning, everything that humanity has known for many, many centuries. Similarly, in comedy there are basic trends that remain unchanged. The only thing that changes is trendy references. The types of references that a stand-up comic might make disappear again after a while. But emotional comedy – and I’ve come back to feeling again – is something eternal. IB

Do you try to give your production an Italian «touch», or is it just the music that is somehow «Italian»? I’m not trying anything directly. What I have to contribute is my personal sense of humour. For me, it’s wonderful when you can work with great artists, such as our Pasquale, Michele Pertusi. If you have a performer who is enjoying being funny, then the work becomes like a game of ping pong, where you toss ideas to each other and develop something together. I find that I am often able to awaken the humour in actors because I laugh a lot at rehearsals. The more I laugh, the more the performers enjoy being funny, and the more they enjoy being funny, the more I laugh. And so then something just happens, it’s not planned, but its derives its strength from the immediacy of the situation. It’s not as if I sit at home and make a IB



little schema and say we’ll do this at rehearsal tomorrow. It’s about trusting the humour of the performer and developing this comic potential together. It is completely instinctive and in the moment. In your preparation, do you develop a first concept? Yes, my preparation is to make a canvas within which things can happen, but it is not a plan in the sense of defining precise details. In the theatre I never plan at all, in the opera I feel obliged at least to rough out the canvas I just mentioned. The production conditions for music theatre are simply different. But as I said, I don’t prepare precise details, I just have some picture and images in mind. The actual playing of the scene then comes from the performer and what we invent in rehearsal. IB

Do the pictures you have in mind initially change to fit the final result? On the first day of rehearsal we do something quite crazy, which is to run the whole thing. It can be really interesting, because you can quickly get an idea of the piece and also of which direction the performers naturally would go. It might not be the direction that you would naturally have chosen. IB

For example? Michele Pertusi as Pasquale is fantastic, he’s a complete genius. He had done a lot of Don Pasquales but his previous interpretations were more as a mean guy. For me it’s very important that he should be touching and «cute» in this role, because then we cry for him! He instantly understood this different direction, and now he is so touching! The other cast members are also great: what I try to find is how people can stay very truthful and at the same time do something «big» on the stage, without it being like television acting. I am very lucky with this cast... IB

But if Don Pasquale is touching and cute, is there a «bad guy» in this opera? «Cute» doesn’t mean «not mean». He can be both at the same time. Don Pasquale seems to me to be not just a horrible, mean person, he thinks that he is doing the right thing. IB

So at the end we must or should have some pity with him?



That is precisely what makes him an interesting, exciting character. He is (also) tragic! If he is not somehow sympathetic, we would not pity him. It’s written in the music: it doesn’t mock him. I would like people to feel sorry for him as much as they laugh at him, in equal measure. IB

Is music that defines a character like this helpful or constricting? It is never constricting! It is a fundamental element of the whole, and a great deal of the staging developed during rehearsal comes from the music. IB

Of the central lovers, Norina is clearly the stronger. Why is the piece not called Norina? IB I wondered about that. I thought Norina would have been a better

title... Would Norina and Malatesta not have been better suited to each other than Norina and Ernesto? IB

Yes, that’s possible. But people are attracted to opposites as well. You have moved the story to the present.

I like to tell stories with the language that I know, which is today. However I always try to make sure that a piece is not jerked violently into the current day. In the case of Don Pasquale, the characters are like those of Shakespeare: completely realistic and plausible today. In our production, Pasquale’s home is a nightclub that has gone out of fashion and is now shabby. The nightclub was probably quite groovy in the Seventies, but it has been neglected. In the meantime, Pasquale has lost his clients and his servants, and he’s just left with an old butler. And in my head, the other characters come from the theatre world. We first see Norina in a theatre dressing room, Ernesto is a not very successful actor, and Malatesta, a school friend of Ernesto’s, is a kind of doctor of alternative medicine... IB

The interview took place in 2015.

→ Slávka Zámečníková as Norina, 2020



Oliver Láng


History of the opera

On 27 September 1842, Gaetano Donizetti signed a contract with Jules Janin, director of the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. The contract was for a new opera buffa, written specifically for the voices of four former stars, namely Giulia Grisi (Norina), Giovanni Mario (Ernesto), Antonio Tamburini (Malatesta) and Luigi Lablache (Don Pasquale). Just a few days later, Giovanni Ruffini, who became the librettist for the opera, was added to the project and wrote euphorically to his mother: «Maestro Donizetti, who was in Paris and wrote an opera buffa to a libretto that has already been used, needs an active craftsman for verses, who takes the old libretto and revises it, cuts, changes, adds to, inserts and who knows what else. And I am that craftsman.» By way of explanation: The work of the librettist was not to create an entirely new work, but to adapt an existing text. In this case, the text was Angelo Anelli’s libretto for Ser Marcantonio set to music by Stefano Pavesi and premièred in Paris in 1808. A condition for Ruffini’s engagement was certainly that the poet was the composer’s equal when it came to his famous/infamous fast pace of working. «Donizetti can put a long duet in front of you in an hour, and further, it will be magnificent» Ruffini wrote. Also: «I am devouring paper, so to speak. It is not a question of whether you do it well or poorly, but that you work fast. The poetry machine continues to produce a certain amount per day.» The poetry machine, in other words Ruffini, was able to announce on 23 October that he had completed the verses, but the literary work was far from over. Donizetti revised several passages at his discretion, cut verses or demanded additional ones, but in doing so put the poet’s nose out of joint. «He informed me that he needed another eight lines per person for a duet. I laughed in his face, just to show him that I always state my opinion freely.» To make matters worse Antonio Tamburini requested revisions in his role; he had the feeling that he was losing out to Luigi Lablache. All this ultimately led to the exasperated librettist throwing in the towel and demanding that his name not be used. One of the reasons he gave was that he could not recognize his own artistic mark any more. Finally the abbreviation «M.A.» was printed on the first issue, which led later to confusion about the identity of the librettist. As mentioned earlier, Donizetti was renowned as a fast writer (according his own account, he composed daily from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon) who in a certain sense worked from hand to mouth, setting the verses to music before the ink had even dried. Nevertheless, it was an exaggeration or understatement when the composer wrote in a letter of ten or eleven days of intense work; in total it was considerably more than that. He worked on the opera (with breaks) until December 1842, in part in parallel with early rehearsals, which was not at all unusual at the time. Rehearsals were not going particularly well, and to judge by the mood and the initial impressions of the musicians, the opera seemed doomed to failure. «At the final dress rehearsal only Vatel, Dormoy [both leading members of the opera 19


ensemble at the Théâtre-Italien], Donizetti and his publishers were in the auditorium. The orchestral players gave no sign of approval: the mark of death. The work had been condemned,» Charles de Boigne later wrote. And Léon Escudier reported that he had heard, as Vatel said to Dormoy: «This text and this music would at best be good for acrobats.» Only the composer remained calm and despite last minute changes trusted in the work’s success. And this did in fact ensue. «The world première of Don Pasquale at the Théâtre-Italien on 3 January 1843 was the highlight of Donizetti’s life as a composer. Giuseppe Verdi’s star was rising rapidly over the Italian peninsula, but Donizetti remained the most famous living opera composer there, as he was in Vienna and several other European centres – perhaps even in Paris. His popularity in North and South America was growing. His financial situation and prospects were excellent,» as Donizetti researcher Herbert Weinstock described the composer’s situation at that time. Box office receipts quickly soared, and the newspapers and magazines were full of praise. Even Ruffini was euphoric and wrote to his mother: «From the overture on every number was applauded, some of them even wildly; a finale and two duets were repeated; Donizetti was called out at least twice, despite the opposition, whose members were so disheartened by the general acclaim that they gave no indication of their disapproval.» Criticism came from a prominent artist colleague, Heinrich Heine, who was staying in Paris and wrote scathingly of Don Pasquale:« This Italian [Donizetti] does not want for success. He has great talent, but even greater is his fertility, which is surpassed only by rabbits.» The enthusiasm of the Parisians proved to be right: within a very short time, the opera was being performed in half of Europe: ten weeks after the première Don Pasquale was performed at La Scala Milan, then in Vienna, London, Naples, and Rome, amongst other cities. The composer did not rest on his laurels. Just five days later, Donizetti left Paris and travelled to Vienna, where was court musical director and court composer. In his luggage were plans for a number of operas waiting to be realized...

→ Michele Pertusi as Don Pasquale, 2015



Adrian Mourby

28C: OBSTACLES TO LOVE Back in the eighteenth century Count Carlo Gozzi declared there were a finite number of dramatic situations, exactly 36 in fact. Sensibly the author of Turandot did not elaborate on what they actually were. It was left to the French critic Georges Polti to extrapolate and publish Les Trente-six situations dramatiques, which he did in 1895. Reading Polti’s list today, it’s surprising to find how low OBSTACLES TO LOVE rates. Considering its role as pretty much Hollywood’s number-one dramatic motif, OBSTACLES TO LOVE ranks a lowly 28. Within Situation Dramatique 28 Polti cites a range of impediments to living happily ever after, including 28a: Marriage Prevented by Inequality of Rank, 28b: Marriage Prevented by Enemies and Contingent Obstacles, and 28c: Marriage Forbidden on Account of the Young Woman’s Betrothal to Another. Given that the unwelcome suitor or unsuitable fiancée is such a common trope in western drama, it’s curious that Polti placed it so below less familiar Situation Dramatiques like 2b: Rescue by Stranger Who is Grateful for Benefits of Hospitality, or 10b: Abduction of a Consenting Woman, or even 18a: Discovery that One has had One’s Sister as Mistress. What of Juliet betrothed to Paris? Isolde betrothed to King Marc? Rosina to Bartolo, Guinevere to Arthur, Sophie von Faninal to Baron Ochs, Marianne to Oskar in Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods), or poor Ernesto watching his Norina being married off to Don Pasquale? The great Shakespeare may have claimed there should be no impediments to a marriage of true minds, but he was by no means the first dramatist to stick A DR I A N MOU R BY


them into his plays. There is virtually no union in the Shakespearean canon that isn’t delayed, plagued or wrecked by an unsuitable suitor interposing himself between hero, heroine and true happiness. Andrew Aguecheek and Malvolio pursue Olivia in Twelfth Night, Demetrius plagues Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Thurio tries to come between Sylvia and Valentine in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Lucentio has three rivals to see off before he can marry Bianca in Taming of the Shrew, Portia has three unsuitable suitors to dispose of before she can wed Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice and Rodrigo generally messes up everyone’s lives in Venice when Desdemona chooses Othello over him. The courtship of two lovers is one of the greatest themes in fiction – and probably the single most frequent cause of narrative happy endings – and yet for the sake of dramatic suspense the denouement must be delayed. Consummation has to be obstructed for as long as possible. Ever since the first lovers found their stars were crossed, dramatists have employed various devices to keep them apart – war, illness, abduction, inequality of rank, mistaken identity, but principal amongst these is the unsuitable suitor who has some kind of prior claim. There may be many reasons why this man – it usually is a man – proves unsuitable, but the norm is that he is far too old. The young woman’s true love, by contrast, is a younger and more virile prospect (but usually penniless). The Barber of Seville, Tristan und Isolde, and Der Rosenkavalier all present the grisly prospect of young flesh being sacrificed for the gratification of one whose trump card is power rather than sex appeal or passion. In Rossini’s Thieving Magpie (La gazza ladra) Ninetta isn’t actually engaged to old Mayor Gottardo, but a betrothal is his intention so he represents not just age but authority as well, as does Bartolo – both guardians of the young women they are intend to wed. By contrast with these wheezing buffos, the lover is unquestionably more worthy of our delicious ingenue. He may even be a titled adventurer courting his love in disguise, like Almaviva when in pursuit of Rosina. Octavian also has youth on his side against Baron Ochs, as does Tristan against King Marc, and Ruprecht against Judge Adam in Kleist’s comedy Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug). Even where the ages of lover and unsuitable suitor are better matched (as with George Emerson and Cecil Vyse in E.M.Forster’s A Room With A View or Alfred and Oskar in von Horváth’s Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods) the existing fiancé is invariably lacking in attractive qualities. Cecil is stiff and lacking devoid of spontaneity, Oskar is a bucolic sadist. Usually the older man has never married before, something that suggests a «immoral» past, emotional immaturity or the fact that he sees his prospective bride as the latest in a long line of possessions, rather than a true love and helpmeet. But the enduring appeal of Dramatic Situation 28c extends beyond the opportunity to show off our hero to good effect. The prior «claim» of an 23


older, wealthier man has fascinated us ever since feudalism broke down and the merchant classes of Europe laid siege to all those things hitherto taken for granted by their betters. The bourgeois miser is an archetype in our literature and folk tales. This man wasted his youth making money. He is the mother’s boy who never married or the misfit who has always prized objects over emotions. Unlike his aristocratic contemporaries, the miser was unable to find beauty when young himself. He was too busy putting money in his purse. Now in late middle age he wants to be compensated. His fortune, so he believes, entitles him to buy that which he’s missed out on hitherto. Bartolo, Gottardo, Pasquale, and Ochs are all variants on this character, although with Ochs the class dynamic is inverted. What we see in Der Rosenkavalier is an aged minor aristocrat believing that he can buy youth and beauty with his title, rather than with his fortune, just as Judge Adam in Kleist’s Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug) believes his position in the community entitles him to get away with entering Eve’s room uninvited. In both cases the young woman’s true soulmate cares nothing for money or status. He is young, he is amorous, and he is virile. What more can a heroine want? At the base of this craving for youth and beauty lies the frustration of the powerful middle-aged man who knows that these are the very things his power cannot grant him. He therefore seeks to acquire them both by proxy, in the form of his wife. After all, he reasons, a powerful man is entitled to no less. King Marc has not won Isolde’s love but, because he is a king, he believes he will come by it. Arthur thinks along similar lines with Guinevere and, in some versions of the legend, actually orders Launcelot, the younger man, to escort her to Camelot, just as Marc makes Tristan his proxy, and Ochs uses Octavian as his representative. That all three men make the same mistake is significant. The powerful man – be he king, miser or guardian – not only believes that he can claim youth and beauty as his prize, but also that he can call upon youth and beauty to personify him when he so chooses. The hubris of this act is plain to see. The service of hotblooded young men like Tristan, Launcelot and Octavian is always a two-edged sword. When two people, equally young and beautiful, are brought together there is a very good chance that they are going to forget the duty they both owe to some senior citzen and answer the biological imperative instead. The results – in drama, anyway – are predictable. Eros will always defeat Chronos, and our young lovers will eventually foil the older man who can only proffer power or threaten vengeance. Unfortunately for him, power or wealth cannot make someone fall in love with you. The defeat of King Arthur, Ochs, Marc, Bartolo, Gottardo, Paris, Judge Adam, Don Pasquale and even the Scottish laird Hamish in Four Weddings and A Funeral reasserts the biological imperative over the base belief that status, A DR I A N MOU R BY


wealth or simply getting in first is enough to guarantee a lasting relationship. Sadly, in the case of some of these unsuitable suitors, genuine love motivated the initial attachment. We feel sorry for Cecil Vyse and King Arthur, who might have been truly happy if only Lucy Honeychurch and Guinevere could have managed to love them back, but both women are awakened by what Shakespeare called the marriage of true minds, leaving honest Arthur and conscientious Cecil reduced to the role of simple impediments. Fortunately we need have no qualms about the treatment handed out to Don Pasquale. He is not in love with Norina and his motives for marriage are as much to do with teaching young Ernesto a lesson as finding himself a wife. As such he is a classically unsuitable suitor.



Daniel Brandenburg

DON PASQUALE Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera Don Pasquale is considered the closing act in the grand tradition of Italian opera buffa. Its creator was accordingly inadvertently tagged with the label of epigon, who simply finished what Gioachino Rossini had raised to new splendour thirty years earlier. While several comic operas are linked to Rossini’s name, (L’inutil precautione ossia, Il barbiere di Siviglia, L’Italiana in Algiers, Il turco in Italia), Donizetti’s works are primarily tragic operas, such as Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena, or sentimental pieces such as Linda di Chamounix. From this perspective, L’elisir d’amore and Don Pasquale attain a kind of special status as comedies, which however does not do justice to the composer’s accomplishments in the overall view of his oeuvre. In contrast to most of his contemporaries, who tackled comic opera only early in their career, Donizetti remained committed to this genre in numerous different ways throughout his career. Donizetti received his musical training in special circumstances. For one thing, Lombardy-Venetia, of which his home town of Bergamo was part, was more widely influenced by Central European culture than other regions of Italy; for another, in Bavarian composer Johann Simon Mayr he had a teacher who was influenced by the instrumental music of Central Europe more than his Italian contemporaries. Mayr’s teaching and the rich resource of his library offered Donizetti a wide musical horizon from the outset and gave him an artistic selfconfidence and cosmopolitan thinking that most Italian opera composers in his day did not have. Not least for this reason, throughout his career he had faith in his abilities and reckoned with open competition from the start. DA N IEL BR A N DEN BU RG


While Vincenzo Bellini went about his business selectively and composed solely for the theatre, which in his opinion also paid him appropriately, Donizetti wrote for any house that approached him and with an extremely alert mind absorbed all the stimuli that the opera stage offered. Whether melodramma serio, opera semiseria or opera buffa, he was receptive to them all. His first success, a decisive one in Italy, was Zoraida di Granata, which premièred in Rome in 1822 and was a classic serious opera. By contrast, other works from those years (e.g. Enrico di Borgogna, Venice 1818, Chiara e Serafina, ossia I pirati, Milan 1822, La zingara, Naples 1822) were of the «sentimental genre» and opera semiseria, while others again, such as Una follia (Venice 1818) and L’Ajo nell’imbarazzo (Rome 1824) demonstrated Donizetti’s talent for comedy early on. He drew his material in part from opéra comique and in part from the proven repertoire of the older opera buffa, as well as from prose comedies from various sources. He did not leave preparation of the source material to the librettist in each case, but tried to integrate his own ideas, if indeed he did not take up the pen himself to write the libretto. With his first full-length opera buffa, L’Ajo nell’imbarazzo (libretto by Jacopo Ferretti, Rome 1824) in a certain sense he took up the thread of Domenico Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto, weaving in stylistic elements from Gioachino Rossini. Cimarosa was one of the last great representatives of the buffa tradition of the 18th century, and his opera Il matrimonio segreto was one of the few works of the era that maintained its place in the repertoire well into the 19th century. To this extent, Donizetti’s approach was logical, but without any further possibility of development. His composition colleagues such as Antonio Cagnoni, whose Don Bucefalo (1847) was a success in Italy, stayed on this track but were unable to survive the changing times. A decisive factor in Donizetti’s further artistic development was his appoint­ ment as head of the Naples Royal Theatre in 1829. This put him in an influential leadership position at one of the Italy’s oldest opera houses, which, however, had experienced some difficulty keeping up with the times. Donizetti evidently regarded it as his duty to rectify this and in doing so developed his full creativity. By the time he left this position in 1838, he had succeeded in making the stages of Naples shine one last time. At the same time, he accepted composition commissions from other theatres. Looking for new ways to develop opera buffa, during those years he became increasingly familiar with French opéra comique. The majority of composers at the time looked towards France, a trend that was also seen in political and general cultural developments throughout Europe following the reforms set in motion by Napoleon. Paris became one of the first great modern cities in Europe and its social life a model for cities such as Milan and Vienna. With their modern organization and repertoire, Parisian opera stages set the artistic tone and attracted musicians from all over Europe: Gioachino Rossini, Giacomo Meyerbeer and Giuseppe Verdi 27


are just a few of the prominent names that here stand for many more. In particular, the Paris-based styles of opéra comique and grand opera inspired opera composers in many ways and certainly left their mark not only on the work of Rossini, for example, but also of Weber, Verdi, Wagner and others. Donizetti too neither could nor wanted to avoid this influence, as for example L’elisir d’amore (libretto by Felice Romani, Milan 1832) and other similar works, such as Il campanello and Betly (libretti by Donizetti, Naples 1836) make abundantly clear, not just at the formal level but also in content. In the case of L’elisir, as an alternative to the usual arias Donizetti used romances and ballads à couplets (with or without chorus) and combined the original French story with characters borrowed from the rural area of Lombardy-Venetia. His long-time occupation with opéra comique reached its ultimate realization on the French stage with the comic opera La Fille du régiment (Paris 1840). As an Italian, Donizetti probably considered Don Pasquale even more significant, because with this work he succeeded in modernizing classic opera buffa in Italian style. The source material, Ser Marcantonio set to music by Stefano Pavesi, had been premièred in 1810 in Milan and had become extremely popular. Measured by the practices of the day, it would have been entirely acceptable to set this older libretto to music with a little retouching. However, like Rossini before him, who in the case of his Barbiere was also inspired by a highly successful earlier work, Donizetti decided to use the plot but give it an entirely new libretto. For one thing, this had the advantage that audiences could not compare the settings to each other. For another, it gave the composer the option of shifting the emphasis within the story and by doing so give the piece a new, contemporary character. While Ser Marcantonio offered buffo effects and jokes in the best Italian tradition, Don Pasquale was given finer, more comedic features. Money does not play as important a role as in the original story, and the relationships between the characters are guided less by material factors than by the desire for amusement, personal attachment or simply generational conflict that must be solved. These reflect the very different social developments in Italy and France in the 1840s, in particular in urban populations. Material issues are typical of the older opera buffa and of an essentially inflexible status system, in which special importance is attached to overcoming the obstacles to social advancement. However, they played a less important role once a certain degree of prosperity and civil equality had been achieved. For the urban society of Paris, the class conflict portrayed in traditional opera buffa was therefore less interesting than it was to Italian audiences. When writing the opera, for a composer of his generation Donizetti had unusually extensive influence on the libretto, a situation that did not please his librettist Giovanni Ruffini. By compiling music borrowed from his own compositions and newly composed music and in the imaginative use of traditional components of opera buffa, he furthermore succeeded in underscoring DA N IEL BR A N DEN BU RG


the generational conflict. He attached considerable importance to contemporary costumes for the singers, perhaps because he was not sure whether the musical/dramatic updating of the story would really be appreciated by the sophisticated Paris audiences of the 1840s. With Don Pasquale the composer went as it were in the opposite direction to L’elisir d’amore. While in the case of L’elisir he used French source material (Le philtre by Eugene Scribe) for the Italian stage and had to adapt it for Italian audiences, in the case of Don Pasquale for the Parisian metropolis he had to transform Italian buffa tradition into «French opera buffa». In both cases the intellectual cosmopolitan Donizetti succeeded masterfully, showing that, despite all the patriotic battle cries, the 19th century was starting to shed its national models, at least in respect of opera.



Bettina Eibel-Steiner


Reflections on Don Pasquale

We are all familiar with it: the image of the domineering woman. She crops up in jokes, standing behind the front door, rolling pin in hand; in the story of the henpecked husband, who does not dare to oppose his wife and grows increasingly more insubstantial and inconspicuous, while the wife turns into a matron. Socrates was allegedly married to such a woman, and her name later came to represent an entire type. With Xanthippe he wanted to prove his mastery in leadership, which went thoroughly wrong. This woman is said to have been so obnoxious that she drove her husband out of the house with her ill temper, out onto the street, where he then became «the greatest Athenian back-street dialectician», as Nietzsche claimed. According to a (completely fabricated) tale, she once emptied the chamber pot over the philosopher’s head. Whereupon he said: «You see, after thunder comes rain.» Xanthippe then. But we also know the other woman, her counterpart: the reserved, shy woman with her heart in the right place. She hardly dares say a word, and precisely because of this you suspect that if she would only open her mouth, the sweetest words would flow forth from it. Her gaze is lowered, the head bent down. Oh! The saint! No jokes would be made about her, but poems written for pale pink poetry books. Projections. As always. Images created by men for their dreams (of the one and only, until death do them part) and as warnings (against the only one until death do them finally part). These stereotypes are dull, they are boring, yet so well-established and seductive that even the greatest thinkers and poets fall for them. It is then all the more interesting to see what Gaetano Donizetti did with them, in the middle of the 19th century! He played with men’s projections! He has Norina, a clever young woman who knows what she wants – namely her Ernesto – lead old Don Pasquale a merry dance. And as a means to an end she uses his image of women, which is not even close to reality. First she plays the simpleton from the country, the demure naive girl, the little dove that must be tamed. She acts the part so well that even Malatesta, who came up with the idea for this intrigue and is pulling the strings, can scarcely conceal his admiration: «Brava, brava, little snake. It couldn’t be better than this!» She trembles and shakes, hiding behind a veil and uttering not a word except «please» and «thank you», and then when she does speak in complete sentences, namely in answer to the question of her favourite pastime, she speaks of knitting and embroidery and sewing and cooking. Virtue and naivety in person. So, anyone wishing for such a wife, looking for a shy creature as a partner, one whom he can shape and educate according to his wishes, richly deserves what is about to happen. And that is: a joke, a fitting joke at Don Pasquale’s cost. For the supposed marriage contract had scarcely been signed, scarcely are the two supposedly a couple when the next cliché is called into action. All of a sudden Norina turns into Xanthippe, as she is described in the book, and once again Don 31


Pasquale doesn’t realize what is being feigned here, because reality does not interest him, perhaps has never interested him, as after all he decided relatively late and more or less as an act of defiance to look for a wife. The little dove has claws! She is not quiet, but noisy, not modest, but wasteful and obsessive about cleaning. Instead of sitting by the fire or in the parlour of an evening, she prefers to go to the theatre. And she is snappish too! Calls him «grandpa!» and sends him off to bed. «It’s advisable for old people to go to bed early / We can talk about it all in the morning», she orders him. And to make sure that he is completely humiliated, she gives him a clip on the ear. That is not so far from the rolling pin! Lo and behold, the deceived Don Pasquale does what Malatesta predicted he would: he agrees to the marriage of Ernesto and Norina. Even though he initially found it a thorn in his side! Even though he wanted to disinherit his nephew and establish a household himself because of it. Norina has so offended his male vanity and even cuckolded him, he will take any opportunity to be rid of her. And more than that: everything is forgotten surprisingly quickly, everything forgiven, even that a trap was laid for him. The main thing is that «Xanthippe» no longer has him in her power. And so at the end everyone is happy. Don Pasquale, because he either really does understand a good joke or never really wanted to marry, Malatesta because his intrigue succeeded so well. And Ernesto and Norina are happy anyway. Or are they? Perhaps not? Will the hot-blooded nephew who however seems a little dim-witted really be happy with this woman who so blithely hatches a plot and plays her roles so shrewdly and with such obvious pleasure? Is there perhaps a Xanthippe in this young woman? Will Ernesto be able to stand up to her? Or would that not take a man more like Malatesta, articulate and versatile and self-assured? Ha, fallen again for the old stereotypes that the husband must be not just a man but the head of the household. No, they will be happy. To the end of their days. At least if this story is played today.

→ Slávka Zámečníková as Norina and Dmitry Korchak as Ernesto, 2020



Andres Láng


Don Pasquale’s predecessors and successors

How would Don Pasquale’s marriage advertisement have read, based on everything that he presents in Act 1 as his wishes for his future with a partner – assuming he was being reasonably honest? Perhaps like this: «Rich man between 70 and 80 seeks pretty young wife with whom he would like to have 12 (sic) children.» The number of serious answers would certainly have been few. In reality the third (senile) springtime of life can be taken seriously only by one person – namely solely by an older person looking for a younger partner – making this a theme ideally suited to almost any form of comedy, in theatre, music theatre or in film. (Even in some tragic operas, the senile «companions» of young women provide occasional amusement – one need only think of Alcindoro in Puccini’s La Bohème). Consequently, Don Pasquale has many predecessors and successors, who have without doubt influenced and enriched one another. In Don Pasquale, we find two plot elements: an old man desiring to marry a young woman, and the popular game of disguise and deception of the remaining parties. As we know, the direct predecessor to Donizetti’s masterly comedy was the opera buffa Ser Marcantonio, written 35 years earlier by Stefano Pavesi with a libretto by Angelo Anelli. The plot of the older comic opera is absolutely identical to that of Don Pasquale (though it is dramatically weaker and the plot rather more cumbersome due to the large cast). The wealthy old bachelor Marcantonio wants to get married, causing his niece Doria and his nephew Medoro to become concerned about their inheritance. Marcantonio’s marriage plans are thwarted by the siblings Tobia and Bettina, who are engaged to Doria and Medoro. Tobia proposes his sister Bettina to Marcantonio as a possible marriage candidate, and Bettina pretends to be extremely shy, frugal and restrained – until the bogus marriage contract has been signed. From then on, she plays the wife with a passion for grandeur, questionable morals and a quarrelsome temperament, until Marcantonio’s desire to be married is exorcised and the two young couples can be united at last. For his part, Angelo Anelli drew for his libretto on a French play some 80 years older, namely Jean-Baptiste Rousseau’s comedy L’hypocondre, ou La femme qui ne parle point which was in turn based on an English comedy 100 years older yet, Epicoene or The Silent Woman by Ben Jonson, dating back to the year 1609. In Ben Jonson’s version, the deception through disguise is all the more daring in that Epicoene, the «young woman» who is introduced to old Morose looking for a wife, is in fact a man, understandably giving the old bachelor a real scare when he is exposed. In their opera, Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig watered down this «error» by making the «silent woman» Timidia a real woman again, namely Aminta, the wife of Morose’s nephew, who risks losing his inheritance. Naturally, Ben Johnson was not the first to use this story for literary purposes. Even Plato in his Casina subjects the old, desire-driven Lysidamus 35


to ridicule when instead of the young Casina he «discovers» the male slave Chalinus in the clothes of the woman he desires in her bedroom. Lysidamus too must accept that old and young are not compatible, and that Casina is a better match for his own son. Verdi’s (Shakespeare’s) Falstaff offers yet another variation on this theme. The obese, ageing but not at all rich «suitor» is only after love as a secondary goal – his real goal is the money of his «sweetheart». But the result is not significantly different from the previous examples mentioned above: in the end, the old man is left without a wife.

→ Brenda Rae as Norina (Sofronia), 2023



Oliver Láng


They arrived in Vienna shortly after the première. «They» refers to an Italian opera stagione, in other words performances by an Italian troupe at the Vienna Kärntnertor Theatre. In short, that means 14 May 1843, four months after the première of the opera in Paris. The programme listed Agostino Rovere in the title role, Eugenia Tadolini as Norina, Lorenzo Salvi as Ernesto, and Giorgio Ronconi as Malatesta. It also showed that an Italian libretto could be purchased for 20 crowns at the box office, and a piano score (German-Italian) at Diabelli, the music shop on Graben. And: «starting on 14 May there will be ... a passenger train to Liesing, Brunn, Mödling and Baden for those wishing to leave at 10 o’clock at night. A bus will await passengers for the train in front of the Kärntnertor Theatre at the end of the opera.» So much for the key data and visitor service. Public opinion, inasmuch as it was expressed by the reviews, was in part coolly aloof, and in other cases delighted. «The plot, caricatured to the extreme, revolves around an old uncle apparently being betrothed to his nephew’s lover; she nags him, overturns tables and chairs, smacks her fiancé on the cheeks, all with the goal of forcing him through these and similar means to consent to a real marriage with her lover.» (Der Humorist) Also: «The score is a small masterpiece, a piece of music in miniature, without surprisingly novel ideas, without overwhelming richness, but full of grace, sweetness and flirtatious lightness. The overture immediately fully captures the attention; also in the overture, a cello solo particularly enchants heart and ear. Throughout the work, the sound characteristics cling snugly to OLI V ER LÁ NG


the words; rarely has such felicitous musical expression been found for unfettered caprice as is the case here.» (Wiener Zeitung) Others were less convinced, but mentioned the approval of the large audience at the première, and the cheers for the singers and the composer, who was conducting. Nevertheless, Don Pasquale was initially performed only twelve times. Performances at the Theater an der Wien and at the Ring Theatre followed. The opera finally arrived at the opera house on the Ring, in other words the current Wiener Staatsoper, in 1879, around ten years after the building opened. However, Don Pasquale was not considered viable work and was herefore performed together with a second work, a ballet – a practice that was not unusual at the time. «An interesting programme was presented this evening: half opera, half ballet – a performance whose length allows only brief mention today. Donizetti’s charming comic opera Don Pasquale was performed for the first time in German. Ms Schuch-Proska from the Dresden Court Theatre gave a guest performance as Norina and was a huge success. She was very effectively supported by Messrs. Bignio (Malatesta), Walter (Enrico) (sic!) and Mayer­ hofer (Don Pasquale). In the German translation, the opera by no means had the freshness and vitality of the original, but its graceful melodies and performance superbly conducted by musical director Gericke were greeted with lively approval by the sizeable audience. Don Pasquale was followed by a ballet novelty, Dyellah, or: The Tourists in India, performed by the renowned Milan ballet master Pasquale Borri. «The ballet was entertaining with comic (sometimes also stupid) situations, with sensational dances, and truly magnificent scenery and costumes.» (Neue Freie Presse). However, the fact that both works took place on the same evening meant that (perhaps as a condition) the opera had to be shortened to two acts. It was not just the clumsy German translation that was criticized, but also the lack of Italian spirit and atmosphere altogether. The Court Opera singers were too «German» for the reviewers, Karl Mayerhofer’s Pasquale was «more like a retired Don Juan, than that wellnourished old bachelor looking for love.» And: «The German performers have difficulty revelling in the humorous lack of restraint to which an Italian is predisposed; they merely exaggerate the caricature and end up taking it too far.» In the next production of the opera – in 1911 – the work was once again restored to three acts, but the original was nevertheless revised, for example in the orchestration and the recitatives. Once again the opera was sung in German, in a free adaptation by Otto Julius Bierbaum and Wilhelm Kleefeld, which produced such linguistic treats as these closing verses: «White hair should not court – The curly braids of youth – Or there will be a terrible tussle – And a dance with the devil». This new production of Don Pasquale was created in the setting of a general focus on Donizetti, which included Maria di Rohan and L’elisir d’amore, all works for which a regular place in the schedule was being sought. Once again the reviewers bemoaned the lack of 39


Italian temperament and the corresponding vocal technique, and this time too the opera was performed together with a ballet – Nippes. Director Hans Gregor designed the sets, the opera’s upstanding musical director Hugo Reichenberger was responsible for musical direction, and popular singers were engaged: Fritz Schrödter as Ernesto, Hedwig Francillo-Kaufmann as Norina, Ludwig Mantler as Pasquale and Karl Rittmann as Malatesta. It was a good ten years before the opera was restored to the repertoire with a full cast and at the new venue – under Richard Strauss’s directorship – on 31 October 1922. And once again the reviewers of the new production lamented the gradual disappearance of Donizetti’s operas: «Among the victims of the great opera demise, works by Donizetti are at the top of the list, both his serious works and his humorous works. Just four [Lucia di Lammermoor, La Fille du régiment, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale] of sixty are still considered» as Julius Korngold, music critic for the Neue Freie Presse, opened his description of the première. ( Julius was the father of the composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold and successor to Eduard Hanslick.) Admittedly, the première included the opera house’s best performers and was put on at the Redoutensaal in the Imperial Palace, an auxiliary venue for the Vienna Court Opera that Richard Strauss had pushed through. Franz Schalk, not only an important conductor, but also co-director of the Vienna opera and an exceptionally talented intriguer, had led musical rehearsals for this work of intrigues. It proved to be wise casting policy that with the legendary Richard Mayr (Don Pasquale), Maria Ivogün (Norina), Georg Maikl (Ernesto), and Hans Duhan (Malatesta) he had put a cast on the stage that almost guaranteed the opera’s success. The eternal discussions about Italian or German temperament were gone, because: «The buffo duet between Pasquale and Malatesta could hardly be sung with such fine humour, such virtuosity and verve as the outstanding artistic duo of Mayer and Duhan, even by Italian singers, let alone German» ( Julius Korngold). And this time the number of performances, which for the earlier productions had barely reached two digits, finally reached a respectable figure: the piece staged by resident director Waldemar Runge was performed 42 times by 1931, fifteen of them conducted by Clemens Krauss. In 1937 there was a Pasquale intermezzo, also with a top cast, when Bruno Walter («he brings panache and Italian fire to the opera», Neue Freie Presse), at the time «artistic adviser» to the opera house, conducted the work twice (with Adele Kern as Norina, Alfred Jerger as Pasquale, Kolomán von Pataky as Ernesto, and Fred Destal as Malatesta). Erich von Wymetal staged the opera, and a third performance was conducted by resident musical director Carl Alwin. The next production (première on 19 June 1942) was performed 33 times. The production was revived twice (at the Theater an der Wien, the temporary quarters for the Wiener Staatsoper which was destroyed in the Second World War). Subsequent singers included Marjan Rus, Oskar CzerPER FOR M A NCE HISTORY IN V IEN NA


wenka (Don Pasquale), Emmy Loose (Norina) and Waldemar Kmentt (Ernesto). Anton Paulik, Berislav Klobučar and Michael Gielen conducted. Another new production came out under Giuseppe Patané – also at the Theater an der Wien as an opera venue – on 14 December 1962. Giorgio Tadeo sang the title role, Graziella Sciutti Norina, Rolando Panerai Malatesta and Ermanno Lorenzi Ernesto. This production (by Paul Hager) was not performed many times, with a total of only ten performances, five of them under the musical direction of Miltiades Caridis. And the work was performed in Italian for the first time at the Wiener Staatsoper! The reviewer for the Wiener Zeitung was not entirely happy with Patané’s direction: «It took a while before he found the elegant buffo tone of the opera; dramatic/passionate works seem to suit him better. The overture sounded somewhat clumsy, and in the first few scenes Donizetti’s effervescent music sounded weighed down, which hindered the development of their specific character. But then it improved noticeably. The conductor’s prudence and skilfulness proved invaluable particularly in the delicate ensemble passages.» This was followed by the famous new production realized with the concept of the Chamber of Labour tour by the Wiener Staatsoper: a handy production travelled around Austria, stopping in several cities and at festival and city halls, thus bringing the house on the Ring out into the provinces; furthermore, a recording of this Pasquale was made by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation. «The way Helge Thoma, the new senior director of the Staatsoper, staged the opera will be perceived as novel even by experienced opera-goers. ... He and his designer Matthias Kralj visually extracted Donizetti’s opera from the spirit of the old Italian buffo opera and transferred it to a nostalgic Schnitzler world at the beginning of the 20th century. The young Ernesto entered in white knickerbockers and with a fashionable tennis racket. In her first aria, Norina lolls on a couch in a négligé, talking on the phone to a girlfriend» (Wiener Zeitung). And this: «The violins did not sound quite the way one remembered them, but they had very little room, and besides they should not deliver the famous Viennese string sound for Donizetti; the composer never thought of them like this.» (Franz Endler, Presse). Naturally the cast with Edita Gruberova as Norina, Luigi Alva as Ernesto, Oskar Czerwenka as Pasquale and Hans Helm as Malatesta was outstanding. Héctor Urbón conducted. When this production arrived at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1980, (as a way of tiding over the repertoire, because the company was on tour in Japan), some of the reviews sounded a little acrimonious. «Stale as old coffee» was the title in the Kronen Zeitung. There were also comments about «bankrupt» and «Pasquale can hardly be conducted in a less Italian fashion» (referring to Ralf Weikert). Reviews in the Wiener Zeitung were not very different («not a very inspired production», «descent into everyday life and routine»), but the reviewer for the Presse had a much better opinion of the conductor’s work («brilliant baton technique, knowledge of the score 41


and feeling for the style») and praised some of the singers (such as Fernando Corena as Pasquale and Patricia Wise as Norina). This production was performed a total of 66 times until 1983, amongst others with Giuseppe Taddei and Alfred Šramek as Pasquale, Marjorie Vance and Alida Ferrarini as Norina, Yordi Ramiro as Ernesto, Georg Tichy, Peter Weber and Gottfried Hornik as Malatesta. There was then a break of more than 30 years. The current production of Don Pasquale celebrated its première on 26 April 2015 at the Wiener Staatsoper. Singing in the première were Michele Pertusi (title role), Valentina Naforniţă (Norina), Juan Diego Flórez (Ernes­to) and Alessio Arduini (Malatesta), amongst others. Jesús López Cobos was musical director, Irina Brook gave her début at the Wiener Staatsoper as stage director.

→ Next sites: Ruth Iniesta as Norina (Sofronia) and Ambrogio Maestri as Don Pasquale, 2022



Julius Korngold

« Any listener who is not completely blasé cannot help but be enchanted by the inspired lightness, the merriment, the melodic flow of the music. »

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Imprint Gaetano Donizetti DON PASQUALE Première: 26 April 2015 PUBLISHER Wiener Staatsoper GmbH, Opernring 2, 1010 Wien General Director: Dr. Bogdan Roščić Music Director: Philippe Jordan Administrative Director: Dr. Petra Bohuslav General Editor: Sergio Morabito, Andreas Láng, Oliver Láng Design & Concept: Fons Hickmann M23, Berlin Layout: Miwa Meusburger Cover image concept: Martin Conrads, Berlin Printed by: Print Alliance HAV Produktions GmbH, Bad Vöslau ARTICLE ORIGINATION All articles are taken from the programme of the Vienna State Opera - première on 26 April 2015: Synopsis - A Mix of Youthful Élan and Nostalgia - When the Staging is Written in the Music A Composer, Surpassed only by Rabbits - 28C: Obstacles to Love - Don Pasquale - Rolling Pin at the Ready! The Unequal Couple - Performance History in Vienna English translation: Andrew Smith IMAGES Cover: Ingo Gerken, »Du bist Deutschland« (2006), Linker Pantoffel und Spiegel. Foto: © Ingo Gerken Page 2, 3, 5, 6, 12, 17, 21, 33, 37, 44, 45: Michael Pöhn / Wiener Staatsoper GmbH

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