Music with Ease > 19th Century Italian Opera > Don Pasquale (Donizetti)
An Opera by Gaetano Donizetti
There is much genuine humour in this opera buffa. The plot turns upon a trick played by Ernesto and Norina, a pair of lovers, upon Ernestos uncle and guardian, Don Pasquale. Ernesto will not marry a certain rich young lady as his uncle wants him; so Pasquale determines to disinherit him, and, to secure an heir for his wealth, decides to marry himself. With the connivance of a friend, a Dr. Malatesta, Ernesto gets his sweetheart, Norina, to receive Pasquales attentions. The old gentleman succumbs to her charms; but, when the marriage contract has been signed, she so staggers him by her assumed shrewishness and extravagance that he is glad to give her up to his nephew.
The opera is especially interesting for the fact that it was written for that incomparable quartet, Grisi, Mario, Tamburini, and Lablache. It was first produced at the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris in January 1843. In June following it reached London and became a great popular success. After an interval of nearly twenty-four years from the previous last performance, London heard it again -- a large audience, too -- in 1905. The music has been describes as "flimsy to a degree," but the unaffected brightness and gaiety of the opera still give pleasure.