UConn Orchestra and UConn Opera perform opera-comedy Don Pasquale

The orchestra will collaborate once more this semester with the rest of the UConn Music department in the biennial Spectrum Concert, a fast-paced concert that features many of the performance ensembles in the department.

The UConn Orchestra and UConn Opera Theater joined forces to perform the opera-comedy Don Pasquale in von der Mehden Recital Hall Thursday night.

The opera is a three-act comedy by Gaetano Donizetti with an Italian libretto, or text, by Donizetti and Giovanni Ruffini. The opera first premiered at Théâtre-Italien in Paris, France, in 1843.

Thursday night's performance was performed in the original language, Italian. To help the actors tell their story, a translation was provided behind the orchestra, as well as a backdrop of changing photos to set the scene.

While the original opera is set in Rome in the mid-19th century, Thursday's performance was set in the present day.

The opera follows a wealthy but lonely man named Don Pasquale who is in search of a wife. Pasquale is also on a mission to disinherit his nephew Ernesto so that his children can inherit his money instead.

Unable to accomplish this on his own, Pasquale seeks out the help of Dr. Malatesta to find him a wife so his inheritance can be left with his children instead of Ernesto.

Malatesta and Pasquale devise a plan to trick Norina into marrying Pasquale, but Norina is impersonating Malatesta's sister. All goes well until Pasquale finds out about Norina’s deceitful behavior. She’s caught both recklessly spending the inheritance and tricking Pasquale into divorcing her so she can marry Ernesto and pass the inheritance to him.

Although things don't go exactly as planned for Pasquale, in the end he is able to give his nephew his blessing to marry Norina and he is able resume his content lifestyle as a bachelor.

Despite the cast consisting of a mere four characters, the performers' presence resonated through the entire hall, keeping the attention of those in attendance.

“It was very interesting seeing the orchestra work collaboratively with the singers,” sixth-semester nursing major Meghan Wood said. “I’ve never seen an opera live, and it was incredible being able to see the actors supported by students in the orchestra. I appreciated being able to follow the plot through the translations, and everyone did an incredible job.”

This is the second time this year the Orchestra collaborated with other areas of the UConn Music Department.  Their first collaboration this year was for the performance of Sea Symphony by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams alongside the professors and students of the UConn Voice department.

For Assistant Voice Professor Rod Nelman, as a professor and an actor in the performance, working collaboratively with other parts of the music department acts as a valuable teaching lesson for his students.

"[These collaborations] show my students that it's all connected,” Nelman, who portrayed the lead Don Pasquale, said. “It's an opportunity for them to see what I tell them in lessons be put into action."

The orchestra will collaborate once more this semester with the rest of the UConn Music department in the biennial Spectrum Concert, a fast-paced concert that features many of the performance ensembles in the department.


Lucy Littlefield is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucille.littlefield@uconn.edu.