About the event
Don PasqualeGraeme Danby
ErnestoRhodri Prys Jones
Irish National Opera Orchestra
ConductorTeresa Riveiro Böhm
Lighting DirectorMatt Haskins
Assistant DirectorKatie O’Halloran
Language CoachAnnalisa Monticelli
An old man,
and a lying, scheming doctor
Irish National Opera presents
effervescent comic masterpiece
Irish National Opera has assembled a stellar team for its first-ever production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, the composer’s greatest comic opera. Donizetti composed the work in 1842, during a decade in which his popularity was so great that one in every four opera performances in Italy was of a work by him.
Director Orpha Phelan returns to INO fresh from her great success with Félicien David’s Lalla-Roukh at Wexford Festival Opera. And for Don Pasquale she is reunited with designer Nicky Shaw, with whom she created a fabulous Rossini La Cenerentola for INO in 2019, when it was nominated for two Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards — best set design and best production. And the lighting designer for that show, Matt Haskins (“Haskins’s atmospheric lighting effects,” Opera Today) also returns for Don Pasquale.
Detailing her approach to staging this new production of Don Pasquale director Orpha Phelan says “superficiality and pretence are the order of the day in Donizetti’s sparkling comedy. It was really important to me that the energy and momentum of the music, as well as the charisma and largeness of the characters, would be matched by the vitality of the setting. With everyone acting on impulse and using their wits to survive, Dr Malatesta’s Plastic Surgery seemed to me to be a beautifully playful world in which to set the story.”
The 13 performances of the new production are split between 2022 and 2023. Don Pasquale visits seven venues November and December — Letterkenny (An Grianán on Saturday 26 November), Navan (Solstice Arts Centre on Tuesday 29), Galway (Town Hall Theatre on Thursday 1 December), Ennis (Glór on Saturday 3), Dundalk (An Táin on Tuesday 6), Kilkenny (Watergate Theatre on Thursday 8) and Dún Laoghaire (Pavilion Theatre on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11).
The tour resumes in the New Year in Bray (Mermaid Arts Centre on Thursday 2 February) and visits Waterford (Theatre Royal on Saturday 4), Cork (The Everyman on Tuesday 7), Limerick (Lime Tree Theatre on Tursday 9) and Tralee (Siamsa Tíre on Saturday 11).
The put-upon Don Pasquale is sung by highly praised English bass Graeme Danby, another artist returning from the INO La Cenerentola team. The Arts Review wrote of “a stunning Graeme Danby as the blustering and bombastic Don Magnifico, a cross between Falstaff and a mean-spirited Sancho Panza, with Danby consistently impressive throughout”. In the 2022 performances Don Pasquale’s nephew and rival Ernesto is sung by Congo-born French tenor Patrick Kabongo (“lyrical, soft-grained,” Opera). The Ernesto in 2023 is Welsh tenor Rhodri Prys Jones, who was praised in Arts Scene in Wales for his “smooth vocal performance” and “charismatic stage presence.”
Irish soprano Kelli-Ann Masterson, complimented by Goldenplec for her “infectious fun and brilliant coloratura,” is Norina. “It is”, she says, “a dream role for me. Her character is so much fun, she’s feisty, ambitious and full of energy and her music is both stunning and vivacious.” The Wexford singer says she is fired up by the music, which she describes as “lively, upbeat, fun and instantly appealing” while also delivering “Donizetti’s quintessential tender moments, especially in the beautiful duet Tornami a dir che m’ami.”
Newry-born baritone Ben McAteer, “a natural comic actor” (Opera), is the conniving Malatesta and Kerry mezzo-soprano Leanne Fitzgerald the obliging Notary. The Irish National Opera Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by Austrian Spanish conductor Teresa Riveiro Böhm, making her INO debut, “… the performance thrived on shared inspirational openness and spontaneous energy” (ArtsDesk).