Pop Up Opera’s DON PASQUALE
Upstairs at The Sun Tavern, 66 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9JD
A one off presentation. Pop Up’s productions, as the name suggests, pop up here, there and anywhere. Check their website – www.popupopera.co.uk
Runs 2h 15 mins. One interval
Review: William Russell, 8 May 2013
(With other Pop Up details at the end of the review.)
The things that are done by a Don!
Or perhaps to a Don would be better. This sparkling production by Darren Royston is well worth catching – if you can. But check their web site.
The upstairs room at the Sun proved a challenging venue as it is not a pub theatre, but Royston and the cast made it work. The others sang, while he played everything from the notary to the back end of a horse.
The tale of the amorous Don Pasquale (Raul Baglietto) is, of course, cautionary. Men who marry in old age are asking for trouble, as the final aria declares. The occasional titles projected on a screen – it is sung in Italian – suggested that they stick to the rule – half your age plus seven. They also suggested various translations which could not have been in the original libretto like the Don, enjoying his future bride’s photograph, hoping that what was to come would work out better than internet dating.
His nephew, Ernesto (Cliff Zammit Stevens) is in love with Norina (Clementine Lovell), but the Don – Ernesto is a bit of a wimp who needs uncle’s money – is opposed to the idea. Norina’s brother, Malatesta (Ricardo Panela) intent on setting his sister up persuades her to impersonate Sofronia, a virgin straight from a convent, who is willing to wed the Don, not knowing any better. One thing leads to another and once wed the demure Sofronia turns into the wife no man wants – even the Don.
It is very well sung, James Henshaw accompanies on the piano in style, and Royston has devised some delightful business for his cast – Norina, who is not the brightest girl in the world, is currently reading a book about Will and Kate, for instance and uses her mobile phone to effect. Beware – audience participation. Panela bustles about merrily as the arch plotter, Lovell changes her dresses several times transforming herself from modest maid to feather boa hung vamp hitting her high notes with aplomb, Stevens is suitable galumphing as Ernesto – it is quite clear once wed to Norina he is going to end up suffering the fate the Don escapes – and Baglietto is suitably suffused with ridiculous longings.
In large opera houses Don Pasquale can seem laboured – here it works a treat.
Don Pasquale: Raul Baglietto
Doctor Malatesta: Ricardo Panela
Ernesto: Cliff Zammit Stevens
Norina: Clementine Lovell
The Notary: Darren Royston
Director: Darren Royston
Musical Director: James Henshaw
Producer: Christine Lovell
Assistant Producer: Fiona Johnston
Here are some Pop Up touring dates – but they’re not of the Don – check out their site.
3 June, St Mary’s, Upper Street, London; 6 June, The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight; 14 June, The Spike, Guildford; 21 June, Lyde Court, Herefordshire; 29 June, Islip Village Hall, Oxfordshire; 3 July, Steiner Academy, Herefordshire; 13 July, The Creek, Henwicj, West Berkshire; 20 July Thames Tunnel, Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe, London.