Welsh National Opera, Don Pasquale, The Riverfront, Newport

May 28, 2019 by

Switch a greasy doner kebab stack for a huge carrot on a vertical rotisserie and you can see why this Don-er Pasquale has second thoughts about his vegan, kale juice drinking new wife. She might be a looker but this unreformed Greek immigrant kebab and burger van owner has bitten off more than he can chew – vegetable or meat.

This Don Pasquale has been transferred to modern Wales where the weight lifting kebab and burger van owner is fed up with his day dreaming nephew Ernesto who is more interested in his pop music and checking out the latest moves to work. He also has a sassy girlfriend Norina who is, yes, vegan. The Don, a hilarious Andrew Shore, decides to get a new wife to produce a son so Ernesto does not get his hands on his prized van.  He tells his confidante, a rather bizarre, Russel Brand style, snake hipped, fixer, Malatesta, who decides to teach the old fool a lesson.



Harriet Eyley and Andrew Shore


Nico Darmani


Malatesta, sung by the fine baritone Quirijin de Lang, persuades the Don into marrying his sister who he has not met as she is in Llandudno. The wedding is conducted on Skype and the pretend lawyer (Big Bryn from the Pub) is delightfully wittily played by Bryn Terfel. It is, of course Norina, well sung and acted by Harriet Eyley, who puts on a super sexy boobs enhanced, disguise, a d seduced the Don. But no sooner wed she becomes a nightmare, demanding the van becomes vegan only and  bullies her new husband into submission.

Once the pair let Ernesto, marvellously sung and acted by Nico Darmani, the final part of the trap for the Don is to pretend the wife is having an affair. The secret lover is, of course, Ernesto. The Don wants a divorce – you can work out the rest.

This is a Welsh farce with lost of mainly South Walian accents and expressions, jokes about the green revolution (such as meeting behind the recycling bins, that carrot replacing the meat stack, forcing the Don to drink liquidised kale etc.)

The four players work with the musicians on stage, conducted by Stephen Higgins. They become part of the action, being Malatesta’s band. This is a small-scale touring production from Daisy Evans, designed by  Loren Elstein with Donzietti’s score and with a fabulously funny libretto.

If only all of the company’s main stage tours were as entertaining as deftly and neatly put together, as well as sung and played to a high standard.


Touring in Wales and England: wno.org.uk


Main image: Quirijin de Lang and Andrew Shore


Images: Robert Workman




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