"I tried to find accurate prototypes for characters in the modern world."


This Donizetti opera had its 1st performance at the Théâtre-Italien, Paris, on 3 January 1843 and was an immediate success. The composer was repeatedly called to take his bows, and many of the numbers were encored. In the same year Don Pasquale was presented in Milan, Turin, Vienna, London, Brussels and Lille. And to this day it continues to be one of Donizetti’s most popular repertory works.

But, for all this, the Bolshoi Theatre has done no more than two productions of Don Pasquale – in 1850 and 1872. And now, almost 150 years later, the opera is again to grace our stage.

Kristina Mkhitaryan as Norina. Celso Albelo as Ernesto.

Michal Klauza, artistic director of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, who studied, among other people under the eminent Russian conductor and teacher Ilya Musin, and Timofei Kulyabin, the Director in Chief of the famous Novosibirsk Red Torch Theatre, who are working on the production, suggest we regard the opera’s characters not as masks but as real live people.

Timofei Kulyabin: “My aim was to ensure that the plot no longer took the form of an abstract theatrical joke, that all the characters acquired the flesh and blood of present-day people, I tried to find accurate prototypes for them in the modern world. I had to equip each personage with profession and biography, and work out his/her social status. … One of the main problems with the original libretto is that Don Pasquale, who is very well off and advanced in years, is totally naïve in all matters concerning the opposite sex. He is almost like a child. It is very hard to conceive of someone like this in the world today. I had to locate an authentic image for it is the make-up of this strange naivety that acts as the spring to plot developments.”

Assisting the director in this task, are scenographer Oleg Golovko, costume designer Galya Solodovnikova and lighting designer Denis Solntsev.

The title role is to be sung by the Italian bass Giovanni Furlanetto (famous for his interpretations of Rossini and Donizetti characters), Bolshoi guest artist Nikolai Didenko, and the Bolshoi Opera Company soloists Nikolai Kazansky and Oleg Tsybulko. The Bolshoi soloists Igor Golovatenko, Konstantin Shushakov and the Company’s Young Artists Opera Program soloists Alexander Kireyev and Ilya Kutyukhin perform the part of Malatesta. Appearing as Ernesto is the Spanish tenor Celso Albelo (a frequent guest artist at, among other Companies, La Scala, the Metropolitan, Paris National Opera and London’s Royal Opera), Bolshoi soloist Stanislav Mostovoy and Alexei Tatarintsev, a Moscow Novaya Opera Theatre soloist. Singing Norina is Bolshoi soloist Venera Gimadieva and the Theatre’s Young Artists Opera Program graduates and today Bolshoi guest artists Nina Minasyan and Kristina Mkhitaryan.

The first series of première performances will run from 19-24 April at the Bolshoi New Stage.