Don Pasquale

In three acts by DONIZETTI.


This opera, one of Donizetti's last compositions is a little jewel of

the modern Italian kinds. Its music is sparkling with wit and grace

and may rank among the best comic operas, of which we have not too

many. The reason, why it does not occupy the place on the German

stage, which is due to its undoubted merit, is the somewhat deficient

German translation of the textbook, and the very small frame, in which

it plays, without any of the dramatic pomp and decoration the people

are wont to see in our times, and finally it does not occupy a whole

evening and must needs have a ballet to fill it up. The four persons

acting in the play, have excellent parts for good singers, as Donizetti

thoroughly knew how to treat the human voice.

The wealthy old bachelor Don Pasquale, desires to marry his only nephew

to a rich and noble lady, but, finding a hindrance in Ernesto's love

for another, decides to punish his headstrong nephew by entering

himself into marriage and thus disinheriting Ernesto.

His physician Malatesta, Ernesto's friend, pretends to have discovered

a suitable partner for him in the person of his (Malatesta's) sister,

an "Ingenue", educated in a convent and utterly ignorant of the ways of

the world.

Don Pasquale maliciously communicates his intentions to the young widow

Norina telling her to distrust Malatesta. The latter however has been

beforehand with him, and easily persuades Norina to play the part of

his (Malatesta's) sister, and to endeavour, by the beauty of her person

and the modesty of her demeanour, to gain the old man's affections.

Should she succeed in doing so, Don Pasquale and Norina are to go

through a mock form of marriage,--a notary, in the person of a cousin

named Carlo has already been gained for the purpose,--after which

Norina, by her obstinacy, extravagance, capriciousness and coquetry is

to make the old man repent of his infatuation and ready to comply with

their wishes.

Urged on by her love for Ernesto, Norina consents to play the part

assigned to her and the charming simplicity of her manners, her modesty

and loveliness so captivate the old man, that he falls into the trap

and makes her an offer of his hand. The marriage takes place, and

one witness failing to appear, Ernesto, who happens to be near, and who

is aware of the plot, is requested to take his place.--Besides

appointing Norina heiress of half his wealth, Don Pasquale at once

makes her absolute mistress of his fortune. Having succeeded in

attaining her aim, Norina throws aside her mask, and by her

self-willedness, prodigality and waywardness drives her would-be

husband to despair. She squanders his money, visits the theatre on the

very day of their marriage ignoring the presence of her husband in such

a manner, that he wishes himself in his grave, or rid of the termagant,

who has destroyed the peace of his life.--The climax is reached on his

discovery among the accounts, all giving proof of his wife's reckless

extravagance, a billet-doux, pleading for a clandestine meeting in his

own garden. Malatesta is summoned and cannot help feeling remorse on

beholding the wan and haggard appearance of his friend. He recommends

prudence, advises Don Pasquale to assist, himself unseen, at the

proposed interview, and then to drive the guilty wife from the house.

The jealous husband, though frankly confessing the folly he had

committed in taking so young a wife, at first refuses to listen to

Malatesta's counsel, and determines to surprise the lovers and have

them brought before the judge. Finally however he suffers himself to

be dissuaded and leaves the matter in Malatesta's hands.--

In the last scene the lovers meet, but Ernesto escapes on his uncle's

approach, who is sorely disappointed at having to listen to the

bitter reproaches of his supposed wife, instead of being able to turn

her out of doors.--

Meanwhile Malatesta arrives, summons Ernesto and in his uncle's name

gives his (Don Pasquale's) consent to Ernesto's marriage with Norina,

promising her a splendid dowry.

Don Pasquale's wife, true to the part she has undertaken to play, of

course opposes this arrangement, and Don Pasquale, too happy to be able

to thwart his wife, hastens to give his consent, telling Ernesto to

fetch his bride. His dismay on discovering that his own wife, whom he

has only known under the name of Sophronia and his nephew's bride are

one and the same person may be easily imagined.--His rage and

disappointment are however somewhat diminished by the reflection, that

he will no longer have to suffer from the whims of the young wife, who

had inveigled him into the ill-assorted marriage, and he at length

consents, giving the happy couple his blessing.--

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