Now this is what I expected from an opera, my wife said. I have to say, I agreed.
We were at the Glyndebourne Company‘s performance of Don Pasquale at Milton Keynes Theatre, the final show of a three-night residency at the theatre.
On the two previous nights the operas were The Rakes’s Progress and Messiah.
The Rake’s Progress was our first opera, and it was a challenge to sit through. The music and the singing seemed so out of sync, both in melody and timing, it made my brain itch.
But not in a good way.
The one advantage, or so I thought, was that the Rake’s Progress was in English.
Don Pasquale is performed in Italian, which was a worry. However, there was a screen above the stage that gave an English translation (supertitles) for most of the singing.
It was like watching a silent film and waiting for the words to come up to move the story along. But it worked fine – I could follow the story.
Don Pasquale is a comic opera, and is a tale of trickery and deception. The main character is a wealthy old bachelor, who is outraged when he hears his nephew Ernesto intends to marry the impoverished Norina.
Pasquale decides to marry himself and disinherit Ernesto. Ernesto and Norina despair, but their friend Doctor Malatesta promises to help them by teaching Pasquale a lesson.
The music was great, and the singing I felt was excellent, even for an old punk like myself.
Doctor Malatesta was played by Konstantin Suchkov and I think he could easily play Arthur Daley, such was his effortless manipulation of Pasquale.
Norina was played by Mariam Battistelli. I found some of her high notes a little uncomfortable, but there is no denying that she has a powerful voice.
In fact, I was a little worried about Konu Kim, who played Ernesto, during the scene in the garden. I think ear defenders would have been insisted on by quite a few of the health and safety mangers I’ve worked with when being that close to Ms Battistelli.
Pasquale was performed by Ricardo Seguel and it was one of those performances where you could not help but follow his every move, such was his attention to detail.
Which was an issue as I had to keep looking up at the supertitles…
The patter duet in Act 3 (I had to look that up) appeared so easy to him, I was out of breath just by watching him.
I have always been anti-opera, but I thoroughly enjoyed this performance – it has made me change my views of this art form.
Don Pasquale is an opera that has made me keen to try another one.
John Guinn attended as a guest of Milton Keynes Theatre