Metropolitan Opera broadcasts continue on Classical 90.5 at 11:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 12, with a performance of Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti. The Pasquale libretto was written by Giovanni Ruffini, a Genoese poet and patriot who was living in exile in Paris. Donizetti ultimately altered his text to such an extent that Ruffini refused to have it published under his own name. The performance will be sung in Italian and will run approximately three hours and ten minutes.
The story of Don Pasquale revolves around a classic comedic premise: a young couple in love schemes to thwart the inappropriate plans of a pompous old man, who wants to marry the girl himself. What makes the opera notable within this familiar genre is its emphasis on genuine human emotion. Donizetti’s score is graceful and effervescent, as one would expect from this master of melody, but adds an additional level of sophistication to match the comic yet insightful proceedings.
The solos in Don Pasquale are not as familiar as their counterparts in some of Donizetti’s other operas, but they are excellent indicators of character and motivation. The heroine’s entrance aria is highly demanding vocally but also communicates the character’s high spirits and quick wit. The tenor’s Act III folk-influenced serenade perfectly expresses the forthright innocence suggested by his name, Ernesto. The baritone–bass duet in Act III is one opera’s most expert examples of using rhythm and accelerating tempo to make a comic impression.
The action unfolds in Rome. Donizetti had originally wanted the opera set in his contemporary era, but conventions required it to be set in the past. The Met’s production brings the story to Donizetti’s time, the early 19th century. Maurizio Benini conducts.