BWW Reviews: Opera in the Heights' DON PASQUALE is Jovial Merriment
Merriment and joviality are the key ingredients for Opera in the Height's production of Gaetano Donizetti's comedic opera DON PASQUALE. When DON PASQUALE first opened in 1843 it was instantly recognized as Gaetano Donizetti's masterpiece, and for many it still holds that distinction. In the classic opera, with a ruse and a disguise, Don Pasquale learns not to marry in old age and consents for his nephew to marry the woman of his choosing.
Keeping the show contemporary to his audiences, Gaetano Donizetti set the original production in the early 19th Century. However, Opera in the Heights has set their production about 100 years in the past, having the action of their production occur in the early 20th century. Other than this minor change, Opera in the Heights keeps their production in line with the original, delivering all the laughs that audiences expect from the amusing tale.
Keturah Stickann makes her Opera in the Heights debut stage directing this production of DON PASQUALE. Together, with Enrique Carreón-Robledo as Artistic Director and Conductor, this team has assembled a talented cast and produced an opera that easily beguiles audiences in the intimate setting of Lambert Hall. Furthermore, Keturah Stickann fills the small stage with lively energy that never lets the opera lag. Likewise, Enrique Carreón-Robledo conducts the orchestra with such tangible vigor that they too play with such exuberance that the audience can't help but get lost in the performance.
Playing the titular character of Don Pasquale, Stefano de Peppo's delightful bass instrument carries well throughout Lambert Hall. His performance is spirited, engaging the audience with the charisma of his charming voice and his fascinating facial expressions.
Octavio Moreno charms the audience with his sly Dr. Malatesta, bringing forth many laugh inducing moments of true humor in the performance. His baritone voice is robust and soars on both the longer, more legato moments of the opera's score and on the conversationally staccato elements as well.
Eric Bowden, singing Ernesto, affectively captures the anguish of love with his richly expressive tenor instrument. He woos the audience with his lovesick portrayal of the character.
From the first moment she appears on stage, Katie Dixon as Norina effortlessly mesmerizes the audience with her pristine and focused soprano instrument. As she flies into the stratosphere with crystalline clarity and precision, her vivacious energy and enchanting voice truly impress with each well-placed note. Even when stationary, she fills the stage with her presence.
If you haven't made it to see Opera in the Height's DON PASQUALE yet, you're almost out of time. This fun and lighthearted performance is just what you need to jump start your heart.
Running Time: Approximately 3 hours with 2 intermissions.
DON PASQUALE, produced by Opera in the Heights, plays Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Boulevard, Houston, 77008, now through Sunday, November 24, 2013. The remaining performances are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00p.m. Also, be sure to check out their upcoming production of DON GIOVANNI running January 31 to February 9, 2014. For tickets and more information about both shows, please visit http://operaintheheights.org or call (713) 861-5303.
Photos by Gwen Turner Juarez. Courtesy of Opera in the Heights.
Katie Dixon (Norina) and Stefano de Peppo (Don Pasquaule).