Opera Scotland

Luigi Lablache as Don Pasquale

Don Pasquale in Scotland

Posted 8 Jan 2014

The first full performance in Scotland of Donizetti's comic masterpiece Don Pasquale took place on 8 February 1856, at Edinburgh's Theatre Royal, where it was given by an Italian touring company.

By then some of the music was known. Earlier, on 10 September 1847, Ernesto's Act III serenade had been sung at an Edinburgh concert by Giovanni Mario, the greatest tenor of the age. Mario had created the role in Paris and then sung it in London.

The opera has been presented at only one Edinburgh International Festival. That was in 1963, when the famed San Carlo company from Naples brought a staging by the star comedian Eduardo de Filippo.  The title role was taken by the Swiss bass Fernando Corena, and that strong cast also included Alfredo Kraus as Ernesto and Renato Capecchi as Malatesta.

Scottish Opera has mounted three productions. The first was a piano-accompanied tour in 1969 and 1970, which was seen throughout Britain. The title role was played by Norman White, the fondly remembered bass who made over 1000 appearances with the company.

In 1972, Peter Ebert directed a full staging with Michael Langdon in the tite role. Sheila Armstrong made her company debut as Norina. Later revivals featured Patricia Hay as Norina and Graham Clark as Ernesto. Langdon always returned as Don Pasquale, except for two performances taken by Norman White, who otherwise sang a distinctly untrustworthy-looking lawyer. Check it out here.

The Company's most recent production, in 1999, was again a nationwide piano-accompanied tour. This was notable for the directorial debut of mezzo-soprano Cynthia Buchan, and for the only operatic role sung to date in Scotland by Alfie Boe. See details here.

Performances in recent decades also include several by Sadler's Wells in the '60s. In 2010, English Touring Opera brought Pasquale to the Perth Festival, with Nicholas Sharratt, most recently seen as Frederic in Scottish Opera's The Pirates of Penzance, singing Ernesto.

Our illustration shows the bass Luigi Lablache as Pasquale. It was Lablache who in 1843 created the role in Paris.


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