Friday, 13 November 2015

Pastel-hued perfection (Glyndebourne Tour/Don Pasquale)

Donizetti, Don Pasquale (Duncan Ward cond. Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra at Milton Keynes Theatre)

There may no longer the ritual of a trip to Stoke for Glyndebourne Tour, but there still is bunking off for the afternoon for a matinee in Milton Keynes. The quality of the opera on Glyndebourne's reduced Tour is still very high.  Having seen Die Entführung and Saul at the Festival, however lovely, these weren't really a priority. But Don Pasquale is nothing but unalloyed delight.

Don Pasquale (José Fardilha) is furious with his nephew Ernesto's (Tuomas Katajala) choice of girlfriend Norina (Eliana Pretorian). Trickery engineered by Pasquale's doctor, Malatesta (John Brancy) saves the day and the lovers are united. Mariame Clément's production, revived by Paul Higgins for the tour is an absolute and utter delight. They might not have quite the comic opera firepower of Alessandro Corbelli and Danielle di Niese (reuniting, incidentally for Il barbiere, another opera stuffed with medical and legal men, at the 2016 Festival), but they really weren't too far off, if truth be told. Fardilha had a hard job, as in many ways has to carry the whole thing, and was more than up to the task; Pretorian has a whale of a time spending Pasquale's money - sort of a not-quite-Rake's progress. And the various attendants were fine too. The chorus revolve around in white wigs almost as if an opera crowd from some unknown Hogarth series: a touch of some of the opening vignettes from Saul, I thought; but this came first.Stalwarts of comic opera figure importantly here: notary (Timothy Nelson) and doctor (Brancy) as well as the inevitable faithful servant (Anna Marie Sullivan). A strong well-rehearsed cast gelled to get the most humour they could from it.

With Glyndebourne's tour, as always, and perhaps slightly tedious of me to keep going on thus, are the impressive production values, and quality of what a scratch orchestra. Not as perfect as OAE or LSO, but  a more than creditable account fo the score. Those production values (apparently not trimmed down from the Festival all that much), were crucial. As was rehearsing properly and fully - essential given how crucial timing was to this pastel-hued production. The large revolve spins, and our characters move through scenes,flopping through doors and paintings. Changing out flowers for fresher ones by placing them in a cupboard (I'd like that at home). You hopefully get the picture. In the resolution, with a tea party sur l'herbe, we couldn't help but think of summer months.

Archive footage here: but who isn't envious of Danni's "commute"? 

Overall: an unalloyed joy. 
On tour and in rep to 4th December; festival production on disc.

Cast and creative team:
Conductor Duncan Ward
Director Mariame Clément
Revival director Paul Higgins
Designer Julia Hansen
Lighting designer Bernd Purkrabek
Revival lighting designer Andrew May
Assistant conductor Gareth Hancock
Music preparation Nicholas Bosworth, Steven Maughan, Duncan Williams
Language coach Barbara Diana
Supertitles Ian Julier
Staff director Rachael Hewer
Costume supervisor Kate Vaughan
Wig supervisor Sheila Slaymaker
Head of Make-up Sarah Piper
Cast includes

Don Pasquale José Fardilha
Dr Malatesta John Brancy
Ernesto Tuomas Katajala
Norina Eliana Pretorian
A Notary Timothy Nelson (Jerwood Young Artist 2015, member of the Glyndebourne Chorus)
Servant Anna Marie Sullivan
Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Chorus master Jeremy Bines

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