Review: Don Pasquale, Glyndebourne on Tour

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AFTER visiting Glyndebourne for this newspaper, it’s tempting to peek at the Internet and see what the professional national newspaper reviewers have to say.

They probably know each opera by heart, watch The Ring Cycle in every capital city and can even sing a note or two.

But I think lots of Express readers might be unsure about opera, visit a couple of times or consider the whole thing too ‘high culture’ for words. So I try to write as I find.

If you plan a visit to Glyndebourne’s Opera on Tour this season (and prices start from a stunning £17 – less than a provincial theatre) then Donizetti’s Don Pasquale – premiered at the Sussex opera house on Sunday – is a terrific place to begin.

It’s fast-paced, melodic, hilarious, crisply-staged, brilliantly lit and easy to understand.....it goes without saying it is sung to the highest international standards.

But if you go beware – you could be hooked.

A complicated tale ends with the modern parable: “A man who marries in old age needs his head examining;”(listen well Hugh Hefner.)

But it tells a true operatic tale of young love triumphing over cash and deceit.

Don can’t convinces his nephew Ernesto to marry for money rather than love so he embarks on a mission to find himself a bride and produce an heir, depriving Ernesto of his large inheritance.

A plan is concocted to dupe the wealthy bachelor and comic encounters expose the greed of the battered and bewildered Don Pasquale.

There are some lovely light touches introduced by acclaimed French director Mariame Clement in her Glyndebourne debut, such as a papier mache pigeon which descends from the ceiling with a note, an ingenious revolving stage set and a chorus of periwigged and corsetted 18th century nobles clad in pure white.

Spanish-born Ainhoa Garmendia sings Ernesto’s love, Norina with minxish, acid wit, never compromising her soaring, lush soprano.

Ernesto is played by Italian Enea Scala making his Glyndebourne debut.

His expressively phrased tenor voice blazes brilliantly with unrequited love and looks pretty good in his eau-de-nil satin tights as well. Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko brought swaggering sound to Dr Malatesta and plaudits – as well as a heap of laurel wreaths and bouquets – should be flung at the sensational bass baritone Jonathan Veira whose meticulous timing and comic swagger proves he’s an accomplished actor as well as having a voice as smooth as aged Armagnac.

Don Pasquale plays at Glyndebourne until Saturday, October 29 before embarking on tour, starting with a pretty accessible Woking.