Outrageous fun as Opera meets Hollywood
It may be true that a fool and his money are soon parted, but its rarely been so funny. This intimate new production sets this outrageous comedy in 1950s Hollywood where the inappropriate romantic overtures of a penny pinching, former silent film actor—Don Pasquale—are hilariously thwarted by Norina, represented in vivid Technicolor. Los Angeles Opera favorite, Bass-Baritone Craig Colclough takes the title role in this hysterical comedy.
Here’s a sneak peak at some costume sketches from Don Pasquale!
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An opera in three acts, with a libretto written in collaboration by Gaetano Donizetti and Giacomo Ruffini, based upon an earlier work by Angelo Anelli, “Ser Marc’ Antonio.”
First performed in Paris January 3, 1843.
Act One is preceded by an overture.
Hollywood, CA: the 1950s
Act I, Scene 1: A room in Don Pasquale’s mansion
Don Pasquale is an old film star from the silent movie era as famous as the great Norma Desmond. He lives in an old mansion on Sunset Boulevard that is as devoid of color as his old black-and-white films. His ward and nephew, Ernesto, has refused an arranged marriage, proclaiming his love for Norina, a popular Hollywood starlet. Don Pasquale, outraged, decides to disinherit the boy and beget his own heirs. To do this he needs a wife, and he has called on a family friend, Dr. Malatesta, to help him find one. Malatesta, siding with Ernesto and Norina, makes a plan to teach the headstrong Pasquale a lesson. He glowingly describes to him his beautiful and completely imaginary sister and tells him that the girl is in love with him. Before long, the old bachelor is convinced he loves the girl and expresses his desire to marry her with Technicolor enthusiasm. Furthermore, he is prepared to cut Ernesto out of his will. Unaware that Dr. Malatesta has a plot afoot; Ernesto grows bitter at the apparent betrayal by his good friend, Malatesta.
Scene 2: A Hollywood Soundstage
Shooting a scene from her next Hollywood movie, Norina’s screen persona boasts about knowing all the tricks to win a man’s love. Malatesta arrives and reveals to Norina his plans for fooling Don Pasquale: Norina is to enact the role of Malatesta’s sister, wed the old bachelor in a fake ceremony and then drive him so crazy with her whims and demands that he will be eager to find a way out of the unpleasant staged marriage. Malatesta hires local stage hands to help out, but there is no time to tell Ernesto.
Act II: Don Pasquale’s mansion
Realizing that he will never be able to marry Norina without his inheritance, Ernesto laments his situation as passionately as any of his uncle’s Silent Films. When he leaves, Malatesta arrives with Don Pasquale’s “bride” and introduces her to Pasquale who is outlandishly dressed in an old costume worthy of Rudolph Valentino. Without further delay, a ceremony takes place, during which Ernesto returns and is forced to witness the contract, and he is finally told what is afoot. As soon as the mock ceremony ends, Norina turns into a fiery shrew who torments Don Pasquale with her nasty short temper and extravagant ways.
Act III, Scene 1: Don Pasquale’s mansion
Having turned Don Pasquale’s mansion into a kind of Hearst Castle, Norina invites the elite of the Hollywood film world to cavort at Don Pasquale’s expense. Exquisitely gowned, Norina brazenly leaves the house to attend a late-night concert, and as part of the plan, she drops a letter where Don Pasquale must find it. It is a love letter from Ernesto, inviting her to a rendezvous in the garden of the Hollywood Bowl. Don Pasquale realizes that he cannot endure the situation any longer. Furious, he calls Malatesta, who promises to fix everything.
Scene 2: The garden of the Hollywood Bowl
Disguised as a Hollywood crooner, Ernesto sings a love song to Norina, who responds fervently for Don Pasquale’s eaves-dropping ears. Don Pasquale springs upon the conspirators, who then happily reveal their plot. Immensely relieved to discover that his marriage has been like scenes from a popular Hollywood sex comedy, Don Pasquale forgives everyone involved and happily gives Norina to Ernesto.
|Conductor||Gary Wedow||April 12-13|
|Associate Conductor||Keitaro Harada||April 25-27|
|Stage Director||Chuck Hudson||n/a|
|Don Pasquale||Craig Colclough||ALL|
Gaetano Donizetti was born November 29, 1797 in Bergamo, Italy. He, Bellini and Rossini were the three great masters of the opera style known as bel canto. Bel canto operas had set numbers of separate arias and ensembles that featured particularly florid vocal writing designed to show off the human voice to maximum effect. These works demanded great virtuosity from the singers and served as star vehicles for leading operatic performers. Donizetti dominated the Italian opera scene during the years between Bellini’s death and Verdi’s rise to fame after Nabucco.
Donizetti’s musical talents were apparent at an early age, and he was admitted to the Lezioni Caritatevoli school on full scholarship when he was nine years old. The school was founded by Simon Mayr, who had a significant influence upon Donizetti’s musical development and helped the young composer launch his professional career. Mayr sent Donizetti to Padre Stanislao Mattei, the teacher of Rossini, for further compositional instruction. Mayr also partially paid for the lessons with Mattei and arranged for Bartolomeo Merelli to write the librettos for Donizetti’s early stage works.
Between 1817 and 1821, Donizetti received several commissions from Paolo Zanca. His first staged opera was Enrico di Borgogna in 1818. He wrote several other works during this period, including chamber and church music as well as opera. It was the success of his fourth opera, Zoraide di Grenata, that caught the attention of Domenico Barbaia, the most important theater manager of his time. Barbaia offered Donizetti a contract. The young composer accepted it and moved to Naples, which was Barbaia’s primary business location. For the next eight years Donizetti wrote works for Rome and Milan as well as Naples, with mixed success. It was not until 1830, with the performances of Anna Bolena in Milan, that Donizetti achieved international fame.
Donizetti was a prolific composer, writing both comic and serious operas as well as solo vocal music. Throughout his career he battled with the powerful Italian censors to put his works on stage. Two of his best-known comedies, L’elisir d’amore (1832) and Don Pasquale (1843), are considered masterpieces of comic opera and continue to hold their places in the standard performing repertoire. Perhaps his most famous serious opera is Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), although Anna Bolena has enjoyed considerable success in this century through the efforts of such artists as Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland.
As Donizetti’s fame grew, he was able to accept of variety of engagements, writing operas for Paris as well as the famous opera houses of Italy. He relocated to Paris in 1838. It was there that he composed La fille du régiment in 1840, which is still frequently performed. Donizetti was also appointed music director for the Italian opera season at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, a position secured for him by Mirelli, the librettist for his early works.
Donizetti was a friendly and sincere man, supportive of fellow composers and other artists, and loyal to his long-time mentor Mayr. Unfortunately, he endured great tragedy in his personal life. Donizetti had met his wife Virginia Vasselli while he was in Rome in the 1820′s and married her in 1828. They had three children, none of whom survived. His parents died in the mid-1830s. A year after his parents’ death, his wife succumbed to a cholera epidemic. Donizetti himself suffered from cerebro-spinal syphilis. Symptoms of his illness became evident as early as 1843; by 1845 his condition deteriorated to the point that he was institutionalized for almost a year and a half. His friend from Vienna, Baron Lannoy, interceded with Donizetti’s nephew to have the composer moved to a Paris apartment where he could be cared for and receive visitors. Verdi came to see him there and was deeply saddened by his colleague’s condition. Friends in Bergamo finally arranged for Donizetti to be brought back to his home town, where he stayed at Baroness Scotti’s palace until his death in 1848.
Donizetti was reputed to have great facility and could compose very quickly. His favorite librettist was Salvadore Cammarano, with whom he first collaborated on Lucia di Lammermoor. Donizetti often assisted in writing the librettos for his operas. He completed 65 operas during his career; L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale, and Lucia di Lammermoor are generally considered the outstanding examples of his work. His compositional style proved influential for future Italian opera composers, most notably Verdi.