Don Pasquale in Vienna

The third opera I saw at the State Opera in Vienna back in 2016 was Don Pasquale, a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). This is an opera I have often seen before, but I never get tired of it — it’s so beautiful and funny. I think men of my age bracket should make a point of seeing Don Pasquale once or twice a year, just so we don’t get any stupid ideas about marrying younger women.

Program booklet with Michele Pertusi, who sang the title role

The title figure, Don Pasquale, is a wealthy elderly bachelor who marries a beautiful young woman, or thinks he does, but he soon regrets it and is glad to be rid of her when the wedding turns out to have been just a sham. And she (Norina, sung in Vienna by Valentina Nafornita) is happy to marry her boyfriend Ernesto, Pasquale’s nephew, who is the one she wanted all along.

Don Pasquale was Donizetti’s last comic opera, and in fact it turned out to be the last notable Italian comic opera for many years to come. As the Vienna program book points out: “With Don Pasquale Gaetano Donizetti ended, for the time being, the history of the Italian opera buffa. After this work (which had its world premiere 1843 in Paris) no significant composer dared to write in this genre for a long time, until finally Giuseppe Verdi, exactly fifty years later, came out with his Falstaff.”

The Vienna production of Don Pasquale is rather slapstick, as you can see from the State Opera’s trailer. I don’t mind the slapstick, but I don’t think it’s really necessary since Don Pasquale is very funny just as it was written.

People arriving for Don Pasquale

If you click on the link you can see and hear Valentina Nafornita singing Norina’s big aria from Don Pasquale, with piano accompaniment by Stephen Hopkins. In 2011 Valentina Nafornita was the winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, after which she immediately became an ensemble member at the Vienna State Opera.

My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2017 and 2023.

See also: Don Pasquale in the Depot in Frankfurt.
See more posts on the composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848).

3 thoughts on “Don Pasquale in Vienna”

  1. “I think men of my age bracket should make a point of seeing Don Pasquale once or twice a year, just so we don’t get any stupid ideas about marrying younger women.” I laughed so hard at this–thank you!

    Lots to ponder on your slapstick point, too–but most of all, I’m still laughing. 🙂

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