Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Director: Mariame Clément
Conductor: Gareth Hancock
Reviewer: Karen Bussell
The Glyndebourne Tour 2015 opens with a revival of Mariame Clément’s opulent but harsh Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
Clément’s take verges on the slapstick but the opera buffa has an underlying viciousness to the meting out of rough justice to the elderly buffoon Don Pasquale.
Making his Glyndebourne debut, José Fardilha’s rich baritone works beautifully in his portrayal of the cuckolded would-be husband whose scheme to disinherit his lovelorn nephew spectacularly backfires. Of particular note is his tongue-twister duet with the double (or perhaps triple)-dealing Dr Malatesta.
Another first-timer, baritone John Brancy sings (competently but rather quietly) the malodorous doctor – a sinister figure dressed in unrelieved black who creeps through his benefactor’s house divining a scheme to thwart the Don’s marriage plans, unite the young lovers, bag the money and, it is implied, get the girl.
Of the three, tenor Tuomas Katajala makes the most impact in this debut tour,thrilling with his Act II aria Cercherò lontana terra.
But, stealing the show through pure flamboyance is soprano Eliana Pretorian as the shrewish, duplicitous, flower-wielding Norina. Feisty and relentless in her bullying of the old man (and somewhat flimsy justification), she has a strident voice, occasionally flattening at the top of the range, and compelling stage presence.
As ever the Company excels. Costumed in beautiful white early 19thCentury evening dress, Clément casts the mostly young singers as spectators of Don Pasquale’s downfall adding to the aura of menace which pervades what is otherwise a comic romp.
Julia Hansen’s rotating set is used to great effect and her costuming sumptuous, and under the baton of Gareth Hancock the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra delivers to complete a rounded performance.
Runs until 26 November 2015 | Image: Tristram Kenton