Thursday, November 24, 2016
I went to the sold out opening night performance of Gaetano Donizetti's Don Pasquale at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Opera Orlando keeps presenting incredible performances with work class talent. Peter Strummer as Don Pasquale is perfect for the part. From my second-row seat I could see the sweat drip from his brow as he reacted to his nagging and abusive young bride Norina (Brigitte Gan). Brigitte gave an inspired performance as his young bride.
The set was simple and straightforward, acting first as an outdoor garden where Ernesto pursues Norina and then as Don Pasquale's opulent living room. One playful scene between Norina and her maid had a pillow fight, and feathers littered the stage for the rest of the show.
The plot is simple: Don Pasquale plans to disinherit his playboy nephew Ernesto who loves Norina. Pasquale wants to marry a young bride, and his doctor offers up his "sister" played by Norina. She acts as a simple country girl in a black veil when she is introduced to Pasquale. A fake notary marries them and then Norina turns into a demon of a wife spending all of Pasquale's money. He is driven to the brink of madness and is only offered freedom when the doctor suggests that the nephew get a small inheritance and marry his love. Pasquale is shocked to discover his wife is actually Ernesto's true love.
The Orlando Philharmonic had a 17-piece ensemble that performed live on house right. The music was perfect for the intimate Pugh Theater. I was delighted by the production, but mortified to discover that I had been humming to myself as I sketched through the whole first act. I have to stop that nasty habit. I am a bit low-class when I am happily working.