Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is a funny opera that is full of lovely music and also serves as a timely reminder to all us older men that we shouldn’t get any stupid ideas about marrying women who are half a century younger than we are. It’s just not a good idea, and Donizetti shows us why.
By coincidence I had just seen a play, two days before, that purveys the same message, namely L’Avare by Molière. So I am now thoroughly indoctrinated on this topic, at least for a while.
The production of Don Pasquale that I saw at the Opéra Garnier in Paris featured a lovely soprano, Nadine Sierra, who happens to be a head taller and sixteen years younger than the tenor she was supposed to be madly in love with. These differences did not detract from the singing, which was marvelous all around, but they did make the staging somewhat less convincing than it might otherwise have been.
Another problem with the staging — from my point of view as a notorious autophobe — was that there were cars on the stage: an old one in the first and second acts (it looked to me like a Lada, but I’m no expert), and an obnoxious shiny new one in the third act. But at least there was only one car on the stage at any one time, unlike a recent Carmen at the Opéra Bastille which managed to have fourteen cars on the stage during the second act.
A mildly interesting aspect of the Don Pasquale staging was the use of green-screen video technology in two of the scenes. When one of the singers in Frankfurt recently told me about green-screen technology I thought she must be color-blind, because I only knew blue-screen, but it turns out both are possible.
All you loyal readers of my posts on Offenbach’s La belle Hélène at the Châtelet and Händel’s Rinaldo in Chemnitz might recall that both of these productions made extensive and effective use of blue-screen technology, with the singers performing in front of blue screens on the lower half of the stage, and their images being blended into elaborate video scenes in the top half.
Unfortunately the green-screen sequences in Don Pasquale were ineffective, not because they were green but because they were inserted for no particular reason. In one of the scenes, Nadine Sierra sang on a green carpet in front of a green wall wearing green boots, and on the video screen she seemed to be standing up to her knees in a field of wildflowers, which was decorative but nothing more.
Watch the teaser for Don Pasquale at the Opéra Garnier.
My photos and text in this post are from 2018.
See also: Don Pasquale in Vienna.