By Kaitlyn Dougherty
The College’s Center for the Arts and Boheme Opera NJ were proud to present Gaetano Donizetti’s famous opera “Don Pasquale” on Sunday, Feb. 10 in the Mayo Concert Hall.
Boheme Opera NJ is a musician-based production company that hosts various opera events all around areas of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The company has also been honored with several grant awards from The New Jersey Department of State and The New Jersey Cultural Trust.
Joseph Pucciatti, artistic director, composer, conductor and cofounder of Boheme Opera NJ, began the evening with a pre-curtain talk before the official presentation of “Don Pasquale.”
As opera lovers of all ages gradually gathered into the concert hall for some musical delight, Pucciatti discussed a brief history of the famous Italian composer, and his journey through the wide world of opera in nineteenth century Europe.
Pucciatti even took the time to provide the audience with a scene-by-scene narrative detailing the basic premise of Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale.
The pre-curtain talk certainly served as an enlightening introduction for audience members, especially for those who were not familiar with Donizetti and his works.
Pucciatti also explained how Donizetti became one of the lead composers who utilized the Bel Canto style of opera. “Donizetti gets the ball started,” Pucciatti said.
When translated in English, the Italian phrase “bel canto” actually means “beautiful singing,” or what Pucciatti characterizes as “acrobatic singing.”
This acrobatic-like rhythmical movement Pucciatti refers to is based upon using shorter phrases in each song.
By incorporating very short phrases, the opera performers can sing much faster and higher.
After the pre-curtain talk, the performance of “Don Pasquale” began. The version of this particular Donizetti opera was translated from the traditional language of Italian to an English version, which enabled the audience to easily follow along and fully grasp the storyline.
The opera opened with lead character and comically rash old man Don Pasquale, played by the bass-baritone Edward Bogusz, arranging himself a marriage to a young woman named Sofronia.
Despite him being a significantly older gentleman, Don Pasquale takes it upon himself to marry in order to teach his nephew, Ernesto, a lesson and ultimately steal his inheritance.
Ernesto, played by tenor David Gagnon, is madly in love with Norina, a young widow played by soprano Sungji Kim.
Don Pasquale believes that Norina would not make a suitable wife and forbids their pending marriage, which leaves Ernesto in a state of devastation and loss.
However, Ernesto is soon comforted once he discovers that his friend, Dr. Malatesta, and Norina have conducted a scheme against Don Pasquale. Unbeknownst to Don Pasquale, Sofronia, his fiancé, is actually Norina.
Dr. Malatesta, played by baritone Kevin Grace, introduces Norina to Don Pasquale as his alleged sister Sofronia. Don Pasquale instantly insists on marrying Sofronia, which initiates Dr. Malatesta and Norina’s master plan in conducting a mock wedding ceremony.
After Don Pasquale and Sofronia become “husband and wife,” Sofronia, who is really Norina, purposely behaves atrociously in order to torture Don Pasquale.
It is soon revealed that the marriage is merely a scheme. As a result, Don Pasquale claims that he has mended his ways and gives Ernesto and Norina his blessing to officially be married.
The performance ended in an applause filled with gratitude while the opera singers took their final bows.