Boheme Opera presents a delightful, English-sung staging of Donizetti’s classic comedy.
Love has always been one of life’s mysteries. There are many versions of love. But the most mysterious and wonderful love of all is the one that ties us to a single person, supposedly for life. You know … with this ring I thee wed … to love and to cherish … in sickness and in health … yadda, yadda, yadda. For many, it is a well-planned event with several components leading up to the big day. The big day arrives, they tie the knot, go off on their honeymoon, and live as happily ever after as they can.
But in opera, love often revolves around spite and humiliation, sometimes with a twist of fate that is a perfect vehicle for farcical comedy. No one accomplished this better than Gaetano Donizetti in his hilarious “Don Pasquale,” a magical musical creation about an old man who takes matters of love into his own hands with disastrous results. A conniving young trio of characters further dreams up a scheme that plays directly into Pasquale’s plans.
“Don Pasquale” was Donizetti’s 63rd opera, his last comedy, hailed as one of opera’s great comic masterpieces. Premiered in 1843, the original cast was strong and had been working together for years as a star quartet of top names. With its bubbly melodies and orchestral score, the opera was actually altered to suit them during rehearsals, and its opening night was a huge hit in Paris at the Theatre Italien.
Boheme Opera’s cast is indeed a talented quartet of artists who have all sung with the company in past seasons, leading with Philadelphia bass-baritone Edward Bogusz in the title role. A protege of the incomparable Italo Tajo, he carries an impressive index of well over 100 operatic roles and nearly 80 oratorio-concert roles. Young silvery-voiced soprano Sungji Kim sings Norina as she takes a break from her doctoral studies at Rutgers. Dr. Malatesta is sung by baritone Kevin Grace, a busy performer in the New York/New Jersey region, most notably with New York City Opera. Rounding out the cast is tenor David Gagnon as Ernesto. A versatile performer in opera, with orchestra, and on Broadway, he appeared in the first national tour of “Ragtime” and on Broadway as Enjolras in “Les Miserables.”
Artistic Director Joseph Pucciatti directs and conducts this costumed semi-staging, accompanied by the Boheme Opera Chamber Orchestra. Performances will take place in the intimate and acoustically sound Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall at The College of New Jersey Center for the Arts. Just a few miles off I-95 at Exit 4, TCNJ boasts a gorgeous campus, with courtesy shuttle and easy access online box office. Boheme has even planned an opening night dinner at TCNJ’s 1855 Room. This dinner and opera night is a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day, and most definitely for a first-time opera goer. For more informaton about “Don Pasquale” and Boheme’s April production of Gounod’s “Faust,” visit www.bohemeopera.com.
Boheme Opera NJ presents “Don Pasquale” by Gaetano Donizetti. Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall at the College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ. Saturday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 10, at 4 p.m. Pre-curtain talks in the hall one hour prior. Tickets: $20 to $30, online at www.tcnj.edu/boxoffice or call 609-771-2775, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. For February 9 dinner reservations at $30 per person all inclusive, contact Boheme at 609-581-9551.