As has been previously announced, the second full-length and fully-staged opera program in the Merola Opera Program 2015 Summer Festival will be Gaetano Donizetti’s three-act opera buffa Don Pasquale. The libretto was by Giovanni Ruffini, but he had to contend with a heavy amount of influence from Donizetti. The opera was first performed in January of 1843 by the Théâtre-Italien at the Salle Ventadour in Paris. By this time Donizetti had established an international reputation for both comedy (L’elisir d’amore in 1832) and tragedy (Lucia di Lammermoor in 1835). Don Pasquale is actually one of his last operas.
Casting for this opera has been announced as follows:
- Bass-baritone James Ioelu: Don Pasquale, an elderly bachelor, who has decided to marry
- Baritone Alex DeSocio: Doctor Malatesta, Pasquale’s physician, determined to show Pasquale the foolishness of his idea
- Tenor Soonchan Kwan: Ernesto, Pasquale’s nephew, in love with Norina
- Soprano Amina Edris: Norina, a youthful widow
- Tenor Alasdair Kent: Malatesta’s cousin, a notary
Pasquale thinks he has found the perfect bride in a woman named Sofronia, but Sofronia is actually Norina. She and Ernesto collaborate with Malatesta, who has already decided to teach Pasquale a lesson. What emerges is a nineteenth-century comedy of errors.
This production will be staged by Nic Muni. Muni last worked with the Merola Opera Program in 2012 when he staged Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 196 opera La finta giardiniera (the pretend garden-girl). This is listed on the title page of its Neue Mozart-Ausgabe score as a “drama giocoso,” which distinguishes it from the opera buffa. Indeed, like the K. 492 The Marriage of Figaro, which is currently finishing its run in the Summer 2015 season of the San Francisco Opera (SFO), K. 196 keeps the “giocoso” close to the surface, concealing the far darker currents of “drama” that churn beneath that surface. Muni was not shy in making sure that the audience recognized those dark currents in K. 196, even working a Reservoir Dogs standoff into his realization of the narrative.
The conductor will be Warren Jones, also a pianist and coach, who has been working with all of the Merola artists this season. Scenery design will be by Donald Eastman. The costumes have been designed by Ulises Alcala.
Don Pasquale will be given two performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 6, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 8. It will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. The performance will take place in the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. Ticket prices will be $65 and $45, with a $15 rate for students with identification. Tickets are being sold through the San Francisco Opera Box Office, located at the entrance to the War Memorial Opera House. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday. Tickets may also be purchased online through the Single Tickets Web page on the SFO Web site.