Donizetti's Don Pasquale presented in Laurent Pelly Production, Sept. 28-Oct. 15

Release date: 9/6/2016    




Conductor Giuseppe Finzi leads Cast of Bel Canto Specialists, Including Tenor Lawrence Brownlee in His Company Debut

Ancillary Events Include an All About Don Pasquale Family Workshop, an Insight Panel Discussion and a CD Signing Event

DON PASQUALE.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera’s 2016–17 Season continues with Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in six performances from September 28–October 15, 2016. After a 32-year absence from the Company’s repertory, the sparkling comedy of cruel games and young love returns in Laurent Pelly’s fanciful staging, which is a co-production with Santa Fe Opera and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. Maestro Giuseppe Finzi conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and a cast including bass–baritone Maurizio Muraro in the title role, soprano Heidi Stober as Norina, tenor Lawrence Brownlee in his Company debut as Ernesto and baritones Lucas Meachem and Edward Nelson as Dr. Malatesta. Several ancillary events, including a family workshop All About Don Pasquale, an Insight Panel discussion with the cast and creative team and a CD signing event with Brownlee, offer a variety of opportunities to engage with the opera and artists. 

French director and designer Laurent Pelly made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2009 with his celebrated production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, which delighted audiences at Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera before coming to the War Memorial Opera House. He returned to San Francisco Opera in 2013 to direct Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann starring tenor Matthew Polenzani in the title role. This season, Pelly returns to bel canto and Donizettian comedy with Don Pasquale, one of the composer’s most humorous and charming works. Pelly’s staging utilizes a rotating stage that allows the performers to move between the opera’s different scenes without lengthy pauses for set changes. "Don Pasquale is a masterpiece of comedy and music together,” said Pelly, “It has as its ancestor the Italian commedia dell’arte, but in the settings and, above all, in the costumes we refer to the golden age of Italian film comedies, that is to say, the films of the 1950s and early 1960s. It is the story of an old man who still feels an impulse towards life. This is a comedy that is at the same time very funny and cruel in that it is the story of an old man who is abused by the three younger characters. During the second half of the show, the set is upside down as Don Pasquale's whole world is turned upside down; his chair is on the ceiling and the chandelier is on the floor."

Last heard at San Francisco Opera during the 1984 Season, Donizetti’s bubbly and, at times, poignant comedy pits the conspiratorial trio of Dr. Malatesta, Norina and Ernesto against the old miser Don Pasquale who has decided to take a young wife and prevent his young nephew Ernesto from inheriting his wealth. The madcap energy of the schemes and the moments of tenderness are given wing by Donizetti’s lyrical invention in rapid-fire, tongue-twisting patter songs and expressive arias that epitomize the style known as bel canto, or “beautiful singing.”

A distinguished group of Donizetti specialists will bring Don Pasquale to life on the War Memorial Opera House stage. Italian bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro will portray the title role. Last heard at San Francisco Opera in 2013 as Doctor Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Muraro has been hailed as “a quintessential buffo bass” (New York Classical Review) and for putting on a “veritable patter clinic” in the rapid-fire comedic arias that figure prominently in the 19th–century comedies of Rossini and Donizetti. American soprano Heidi Stober—“the complete package: a winsome presence along with an instrument of stunning brilliance, proportion and beauty” (Opera News)—sings Norina, who is both Ernesto’s sweetheart and the formidable “Sofronia,” a shrew who torments Pasquale and spends his money. African-American tenor Lawrence Brownlee makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Ernesto. Acclaimed for his creation of the role of legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker in Daniel Schnyder’s 2015 opera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, Brownlee is an internationally renowned artist and heralded for his “light lyric tenor, bright of timbre and absolutely secure in his dizzying flights into the coloratura heavens” (Chicago Tribune). The role of Dr. Malatesta, the orchestrator of the opera’s central scheme to teach Pasquale a lesson, will be performed by baritones Lucas Meachem (Sept. 28, Oct. 2, Oct. 12, Oct. 15) and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Edward Nelson (Oct. 4 and 7). Maestro Giuseppe Finzi, praised for his “infectious vitality” (San Francisco Chronicle) in this repertory, will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Ian Robertson is the Chorus Director.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six San Francisco Opera performances of Don Pasquale are scheduled for September 28 (7:30 p.m.), October 2 (2:00 p.m.), October 4 (7:30 p.m.), October 7 (7:30 p.m.), October 12 (7:30 p.m.) and October 15 (7:30 p.m.), 2016.

For the complete press release, please view the attached PDF.