Don Pasquale (Sinfonia)
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti
Sinfonia (Overture) from Don Pasquale (opera in three acts)
(29 November 1797, Bergamo [Italy, at that time newly under the rule of Napoleonic France] – 8 April 1848, Bergamo [Italy, under Austrian rule])
Théâtre-Italien, Salle Ventadour, Paris, 3 January 1843
Full score, 1843, reissued by Ricordi in 1870, plate 42051.
Overture: Milan: G. Ricordi, c1920, plate P. R. 36.
Librettist for the opera Don Pasquale
Giovanni Ruffini (1807-1881), after Angelo Anelli (1761-1820)
Since its premiere almost two hundred years ago, Don Pasquale has been among the most consistently popular Italian operas. Along with Donizetti’s earlier comedy L’elisir d’amore and the drama Anna Bolena (1830), the opera and its sparkling overture are among his most frequently performed works.
The opera was composed late in the composer’s career, and is acclaimed as his overall masterpiece: a consistently engaging and flawlessly integrated comedy, full of comic archetypes with a degree of genuine character development rare in works of this genre. Bel canto singing was beginning to wane by the 1840s, and singers were transforming from experts in the light, flexible style required by Mozart, Bellini, Rossini, and early Donizetti to heavier, more heroic voices. Don Pasquale looked backwards with its funny patter songs and forward in the wrenching melodies for tenor and unison chorus that became a hallmark of Verdi’s music. Donizetti’s later music is gorgeous and variegated, seamlessly changes tone from light to dark, and departing from Rossini more straightforward opera buffa style.
The composer was born into poverty in Bergamo (occupied by the French and then the Austrians for Donizetti’s entire life), but he and his brothers were invited to attend the best free music school in Italy, run in Bergamo by Giovanni (Johann) Mayr. In his teens, Gaetano was sponsored by Mayr in order to study for two years in Bologna with Padre Mattei, and his teachers began to hand over contracts to him by age twenty. Gaetano’s brother Giuseppe became the Sultan’s maestro di cappella in Istanbul, and both developed into handsome, tall men with curly dark chestnut hair. In addition to dozens of operas, Gaetano composed over three hundred pieces of orchestral and chamber music and roughly 250 songs, many in Neapolitan dialect. The wife of La Scala’s main librettist Felice Romani described Gaetano as “likeable beyond all description: the fair sex went mad for him.”
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210 x 297 mm