OperaReviewSouth East

Don Pasquale – Theatre Royal, Norwich

Reviewer: Lu Greer

Director: Mariame Clement

A mainstay of Glyndebourne for years, Mariame Clement’s production of Donizetti’s comedy Don Pasquale returns to Norwich to prove that there really is no fool like an old fool. The miserly Don Pasquale, exasperated by his feckless nephew Ernesto, decides the cut the young man out of his will. But once Ernesto and his love, Norina, discover the plan the show pulls the audience into a quick paced and outrageous generational battle for the inheritance.

The bass-baritone of Richardo Seguel brings to life the show’s namesake, with his every movement working wonderfully to tell the story of the man whose every plan backfires. His performance of the Pasquale-Malatesta tongue twister is a genuine high point of the show and gives him an opportunity to showcase his patter and timing without losing any of the power of his rich vocals. Miriam Battistelli’s Norina is the perfect foil to the Don’s plans in a part which highlights her comedic timing as well as her soprano vocals. While the entire cast were indeed accomplished, mention must be made of Anna-Marie Sullivan, as she plays a whole host of servants, and a nurse, in shades of the comedic and tragic, bringing to life any scene she is in.

The only blemish on this production is the slight change in emphasis surrounding Don Pasquale himself. He has at the same time become a more sympathetic character than he might otherwise have been, while also making the rest of the cast more merciless and more ruthless towards him. The effect, instead of giving the audience the justice-based schadenfreude of watching the bullying and miserly old man taken down a peg, is more of a sickly old man being tricked by his truly spoiled and unlikeable nephew (Konu Kim) who seems to be almost bullying the unwell old man instead.

Compensating for the minor changes in characterisation though, is the wonderful triparitite set which dominates the stage, rotating between Norina’s rather unpleasant accommodations to the juxtaposing elegance of the Don’s rooms, and Ernesto’s chaos of a teenage bedroom. The bright costumes and smooth scene transitions match the sharp and agile performances which bring this production to life.

Runs Until: 26 November 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

A sharp, quick-paced production

The Reviews Hub - South East

The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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