Don Pasquale at the U of T Opera

Last night I attended the opening performance of the University of Toronto Opera’s first production of Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera Don Pasquale.  The production is directed by Michael Patrick Albano and conducted by Sandra Horst.  The cast starred Dylan Wright (Don Pasquale), Zachary Read (Dr. Malatesta), Jonathan MacArthur (Ernesto), Andrea Núñez (Norina/Sofronia), and Mikail Shemet (Calrlino.)

The action takes place, not in Rome in the early 19th Century, but in Toronto’s ‘Little Italy’ neighbourhood in 1955.  The set features the front of several businesses, including the ‘Pasquale Pizzeria and Café.’  The set also includes a turntable which allows the scene to be rotated to few the inside of Pasquale’s house, and is done a few times during a scene.  The whole set, and updating to Toronto in the 1950’s was a success in my opinion as humour still exists, and the story works just as well in in either the 19th 0r 20th Century. 

The set of Pasquale’s home is updated during the intermission between Acts Two and Three.  The furniture is all new, and the paintings have all been changed.  The radio from Act Two has now been replaced by a television set, complete at one point with the housekeeper watching a performance of ‘I Love Lucy.’

The cast was impressive, especially the performance of Andrea Núñez as Norina/Sofronio.  Toronto audiences should remember her name if her performance last night was any indication of her abilities.  Her singing appeared effortless, and she truly acted out her role with a strong understanding of the role – for example, after the ‘marriage’ to Pasquale, I found it very easy to understand his frustration as Ms. Núñez convincingly acted like she was literally running the household.

Mr. MacArthur’s Ernesto was sympathetic and understanding.   He too appears to have a successful future.  His voice simply flowed out over the orchestra and one could understand his sadness when his uncle disinherits him.

Mr. Wright acted very well as an older man in this production.  He truly looked like a an older man and was clearly frustrated after the ‘marriage’ takes place.

With one intermission the whole performance runs approximately two and a half hours, yet the time just flew by, and I regretted when the curtain goes down at the end of the evening.  The whole performance was that wonderful.  If you get a chance, you need to attend this production.

The production runs from November 28th to December 1st 2013 at the Edward Johnson Building at the U of T.

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