Gauteng Opera pays tribute to Gaetano Donizetti

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Family Matters - Gauteng OperaFamily Matters: Two light-hearted operas by Gaetano Donizetti, staged and produced by Gauteng Opera from 8 – 10 June in Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg.FAMILY MATTERS

A tribute to Gaetano Donizetti

During June, Gauteng Opera will pay tribute to the genius-work of composer, Gaetano Donizetti who brought us unforgettable operas such as Lucia di Lammermoor, E’lisir d’amore, Maria Stuarda and Don Pasquale, to name a few. Gauteng Opera will present Act II of Don Pasquale and the one-act opera, Rita.

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Gauteng Opera is excited to be able to present this tribute in their new Tin Town Theatre in Ferreirasdorp. The soloists of Gauteng Opera will portray the various roles in the two opera productions and Gauteng Opera CEO, Marcus Desando will direct this comic and fun season with Andrew Duncan accompanying the singers on piano.

Rita was completed in 1841 under its original title Deux hommes et une femme (Two Men and a Woman) with the French libretto by Gustave Vaëz. The opera, a domestic comedy consisting of eight musical numbers connected by spoken dialogue. Rita was never performed in Donizetti’s lifetime, but premiered posthumously at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 7 May 1860.

The Plot: At an inn belonging to Rita, the tyrannical and abusive wife of the timid Peppe, the couple finds that their lives are thrown into turmoil with the unexpected arrival of Gaspar, Rita’s first husband, whom all believed to have drowned. In reality, Gaspar had run away to Canada. Believing that Rita has died in a fire, Gaspar has returned to obtain her death certificate so that he can remarry. When the two meet, Gaspar tries to run away. Peppe, however, sees this as an opportunity to free himself from Rita’s slaps because Gaspar is her legitimate husband. The two men agree to a game such that whoever wins has to remain with Rita. Both try to lose, but ultimately the winner is Gaspar. Yet Rita, who had suffered frequently from the hand of Gaspar, refuses to return to be his wife. Gaspar, pretending he has lost the hand, induces Peppe to declare his love for Rita and his firm intention to remain as her husband. The crafty Gaspar, having achieved his purpose, takes his leave from the reconciled couple.

Don Pasquale is a comic opera with three acts and the Italian libretto was largely completed by Giovanni Ruffini as well as the composer. It was based on a libretto by Angelo Anelli for Stefano Pavesi’s opera “Ser Marcantonio” written in 1810. Pasquale was first performed on 3 January 1843 by the Théâtre-Italien at the Salle Ventadour in Paris with great success and it is generally regarded as being the high point of the 19th century opera buffa tradition.

Don Pasquale Act II excerpt: Ernesto is alone, lamenting his fate of being disinherited by his uncle, Don Pasquale and considers his decision to leave Rome. He leaves the room just as Pasquale enters, dressed in his outdated finery. He parades around in his grand costume, hoping it will conceal his advancing years. Malatesta arrives with Norina in tow, and introduces her to Pasquale as his sister, Sofronia, fresh out of the convent. Pasquale is smitten, and Norina plays the part of a dutiful, modest and submissive lady, to Pasquale’s satisfaction. Norina consents to the proposed marriage, which delights Pasquale. He wants to send for the notary to conduct the ceremony straight away – conveniently, Malatesta has brought one along, who waits in the antechamber.

Taking his seat, the “notary” writes out a marriage contract as dictated by Malatesta and Pasquale, where the Don bequeaths all his estate to be administrated by Sofronia. The contract is quickly drawn up: Pasquale signs but, before Norina can affix her signature, Ernesto bursts in. Intending to say a final farewell, he is amazed to see Norina about to marry Pasquale. However, Malatesta persuades him not to say anything, and he is forced to act as the final witness much to Don Pasquale’s delight.

As soon as the contract is signed, Norina abandons her pretence of docility, and refuses Pasquale’s embrace. She announces her intention to teach him manners, and to have Ernesto as a gallant to accompany her on evening strolls. Pasquale is horrified at this transformation, while Malatesta and Ernesto can barely conceal their amusement. Summoning the household staff, Norina recites a long list of demands. Pasquale is stricken at his misfortune, so Malatesta urges him to go to bed.

Performances of FAMILY MATTERS will take place on Thursday 8 June 2017 at 18:00, Friday 9 June 2017 at 19:00 and Saturday 10 June 2017 at 16:00. The unreserved tickets are R100 per person and we offer a discount of 15% to scholars and pensioners. Tickets can be purchased through Gauteng Opera office on 011 067 8000 / info@gautengopera.org

For more information, log on to www.gautengopera.org, visit Gauteng Opera’s Facebook page or follow @GautengOpera on Twitter.

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