Delaware Valley Opera does it again - another excellent 2008 season production
LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY — As funny as any sitcom in today's lineup of television comedies, Donizetti'e opera buffa, "Don Pasquale," would surely warrant an Emmy Award.
And while the original story is set in Rome during the mid-1800s, Delaware Valley Opera in a three-time run is transposing the work to here and now. Thus, in its first presentation Saturday night at Seelig Theatre on the campus of Sullivan County Community College, the comedy was not only done in English with contemporary fixtures and clothes, but the performance also showcased — despite occasional overplaying by the orchestra — great singing.
In the title role, bass Steven Utzig evokes a smug and controlling character with his fitful aria, "I'll show that nephew of mine." Not only does he disavow Ernesto and his wish to marry the beautiful widow Norina, but Pasquale also vows to marry and produce his own heirs.
If you go ...
What: Donizetti's "Don Pasquale," sung in English
Where: Tusten Theatre, 210 Bridge St., Narrowsburg
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8, 3 p.m. Aug. 17
Tickets: $25, $22 senior citizens and students, $15 age 18 and younger
On the Web: www.dv-opera.org
sharing food, raising money, Saluting krause
After the final performance of "Don Pasquale" on Aug. 17, theatergoers and friends of the Delaware Valley Opera are invited to gather at Firemen's Field, behind the Tusten Theatre in Narrowsburg, at approximately 5:30 p.m. They are asked to bring food and drink and musical instruments and share a joyous end-of-season repast with DVO cast and crew.
Additionally, if they are so inspired, all are invited to make tax-deductible contributions to the Gloria Krause Endowment Fund. The new fund pays tribute to the DVO founder, whose vision and drive have brought yearly opera productions to Narrowsburg and elsewhere in Sullivan County for the last 23 years. Interest from the fund will help pay for singers' and musicians' performance fees.
Checks also can be made out to DVO and sent to P.O. Box 446, Narrowsburg 12764. For further information, call 252-3136.
But following a scheme devised by Dr. Malatesta that the wealthy bachelor might marry the doctor's beautiful "sister," Sofronia (Norina in disguise), Utzig's voice overflows with glee in an "Oh Joy! Oh Joy!" aria — rich in tone and florid with runs as the talented singer captures Pasquale's euphoria.
Creating the aura that Pasquale savors comes from the glorious "Beautiful as an Angel" aria, which Malatesta (baritone David Trombley) delivers in conjuring up for the overzealous man the vision of an attractive if timid young lady fresh out of a convent. And later, in a spirited duet of agreement between Norina and Malatesta, the conspiring duo plans to drive Pasquale crazy as the two conclude their pact with spirited brandishment of swords. But beyond Trombley's fine singing voice, it's in the complete and effective fleshing out of the scheming doctor that he displays acting at its best.
Good role-playing, however, is not his alone. Especially notable among all the principals as well as supporting cast members in this show is the "remain-in-character" principle lacking in some opera productions with their motionless background players.
Anything but static, however, is soprano Szilvia Schrang in the role of Norina. And fulfilling Malatesta's "vision" of an attractive woman earlier, she fills the bill completely — with alluring looks, charming presence and a lyric voice that finds eloquence in her engaging aria, "I Know." Especially captivating, too, is the threesome of Pasquale, Norina and Malatesta as they react to Pasquale's joyful marriage acceptance-aria.
While Ernesto (tenor Anthony Daino), castigated by his uncle and shorn of his relationship with Norina, mourns the loss with a forlorn "I'll see you never more" aria in the first act, by Act 3 he endears her with the ballad "The joy of my life," as they reunite and share a romantic duet.
Rounding out the cast of principals is bass Joseph Bickhardt as the hyperkinetic and comical lawyer who scoots in to draw up the marriage contract — which is actually a sham designed by Malatesta — between Pasquale and the disguised Norina. With shaky hand and quirky body movements, Bickhardt adds whimsy to an already funny scene.
Directed by Jim Blanton, the production bustles with fine singing and excitement by both principals and the large cast of 17 supporting actors. For opera lovers and newcomers, this production is sure to please. "Don Pasquale" continues in repertory with Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and revues "The Wizard of Verse" and "Divas on the Delaware" through Aug. 17.