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Donizetti Don Pasquale

Royal Opera House, London, October 14 - November 2, 2019

 Photographs by Clive Barda, courtesy of the Royal Opera House


Alan Jackson saw the October 18 and has sent the following review:-


I’m afraid that Covent Garden’s new production of Don Pasquale isn’t to my taste. Quite simply, there is just far too much business involving extras that distracts from the music and even the principals. Not only does Pasquale have a nearly ever-present elderly female servant, but there are also furniture removers in excess, flashbacks to Pasquale’s childhood, video projections so we can see Norina practising her facial expressions for the rehearsal duet, puppets for reasons that escape me, etc. etc. This is all down to director Damiano Michieletto who is infamous in London for the gratuitous rape scene in his production of William Tell, though for me his greatest crime was having Hedwige lay the kitchen table during Tell’s aria “Sois immobile”. He just doesn’t know when to do nothing. Here he again displayed this basic unmusicality in the quartet in Act II which totally failed to register musically so overlaid was it with changing lighting and other business. The puppets that Pasquale and Malatesta operated in their big patter number (amazing that they could do this and sing at the same time) totally precluded any interaction between the two characters.  


The attractive modern minimalist set – no walls but plenty of doors – is spoiled by the lighting. All that strip lighting serves to dazzle the audience’s eyes (painfully at times) rather than illuminate the singers and set and provide atmosphere.  


Olga Peretyatko’s Norina was fluently sung with a decent trill, if at times a little shrill at the top, Markus Werba presented an attractive Malatesta once past a bumpily un-bel canto first aria, and Ioan Hotea as Ernesto was too reedy for my liking though he softened for his offstage serenade in Act III and the following duet with Norina was beautifully sung by both. All three looked good on stage, young, slim and characterful. Bryn Terfel, singing his first Pasquale very well, was both padded and corseted. He looked rather younger than the specified 70 year old of the libretto, but in refraining from over-playing was all the more touching. Though perhaps one should remember that it is his refusal to allow his nephew to marry freely that provokes the rather heartless prank that is the opera’s subject. There was excellent playing and singing from the ROH orchestra and chorus under Evelino Pidò.  


In allowing a director and designer to overwhelm the music with their own ideas, Covent Garden has added to the list of productions that I have little or no desire to see again (The Sicilian Vespers, Lucia, William Tell, Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin etc). Composers’ operas are losing out to Directors’ theatre pieces. I should add that the audience seemed to be enjoying itself greatly and applauded noisily at the end.



The Team

Don Pasquale - Bryn Terfel

Norina - Olga Peretyatko

Ernesto - Ioan Hotea

Doctor Malatesta - Markus Werba

Notary - Bryan Secombe


Conductor -   Evelino Pidò

Director - Damiano Michieletto

Set designer - Paolo Fantin

Costume designer - Agostino Cavalca

Lighting designer - Alessandro Carletti

Video designer - rocafilm


Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra 



Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Don Pasquale is introduced to Malatesta's "sister"







Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Malatesta tries to calm Pasquale and Ernesto down







                                                                                   Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019


Ernesto gets shown the door







Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Norina gets to work on Pasquale 







Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Pasquale and Norina







Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Norina storms off







Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Norina and Ernesto







                                                                                Photo - Clive Barda, © ROH 2019

Malatesta with one of the somewhat superfluous puppets




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