A Trip to Old Hollywood (And Some Great Voices) in Don Pasquale
Pittsburgh Opera’s new production of Don Pasquale [goes] beyond opera-lovers-only territory and turns it into something that demands wider attention…There are a thousand brilliant touches to the staging…For film lovers (particularly of a TCM bent), it’s a treat; for anyone, however, it gives plenty of rich, entertaining context to the comic opera, a smart move to contemporize a centuries-old tale…This show is a delight, regardless of your affinity for opera or knowledge of the material… it’s a production that should draw you in out of curiosity and convert you into a fan by the end of the evening. -Sean Collier, Pittsburgh Magazine
Pittsburgh Opera’s Don Pasquale: One part Donizetti, one part Oropesa…Stir
This version of Don Pasquale must be associated with its Director’s name, Chuck Hudson. It is distinctively his as well as Donizetti’s and Ruffini’s…Director Hudson’s staging includes added physical humor, sight gags, and amusing early-style Hollywood-film clips…The classical production of the opera is amusing, but Mr. Hudson’s is laugh-out-loud funny in quite a few places…How Director Hudson managed to have all these comedic players and effects and still keep pace with the score, I do not know, but it works, and it makes for a very entertaining evening…In truth, I started watching the performance with some concerns whether the comedy would be funny and whether I would like what Pittsburgh Opera had done to a Donizetti classic with updated trappings, but also in truth, I must admit that I left with a happy smile on my face, only regretting that I could not remain in Pittsburgh to see another performance. There is so much packed into this production, it might be even funnier the second time. -OperaGene
Pittsburgh Opera’s “Don Pasquale” a Clever, Campy, Comic Delight
For the final work of its 80th season, Pittsburgh Opera is presenting Chuck Hudson’s novel “Hollywood” spin on Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and its first performance last night delighted a surprisingly slim audience at the Benedum in an evening of song and comedy that seemed to end as quickly as it began…in a manner which is thoroughly entertaining in all particulars…Words and still photography can’t sufficiently describe how effectively such touches as keeping Pasquale in “black and white” –against an increasingly Technicolor background –work, or how cleverly the silent movie asides, sight gags and other bits of fun make Donizetti’s score shine even more brightly than it already does…This final production of Pittsburgh Opera’s current season is also one of its best, and hopefully the remaining performances will draw fuller houses. This reviewer has every intention of seeing it again simply to enjoy another evening (maybe two) of tunefully fun entertainment before the long wait for next season begins. -George B. Parous, Pittsburgh in the Round
|Pittsburgh Opera revisits silent Hollywood in waggish season finale production
Directed by Chuck Hudson…this version of Don Pasquale is quality work, a genuinely funny bit of opera and fine way to close the Pittsburgh Opera season. -Jeremy Reynolds-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 2019 Best of Culture in Pittsburgh: Don Pasquale
The classic comedic opera gets a fresh ’50s backdrop for the first production of its kind held in Pittsburgh. This will be director Chuck Hudson’s ninth run of “Don Pasquale,” an opera with a flair for wit and a touch of drama. -Amanda Myers, Pittsburgh Magazine
Top Events in Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Opera is giving Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera “Don Pasquale” a fresh new lease on life with a premier production set in glamorous 1930s Hollywood. -Jennifer Baron, NextPittsburgh.com
Don Pasquale Offers Laughs at Pittsburgh Opera…Don Pasquale will leave audiences laughing uncontrollably from start to finish, all amongst a beautiful array of arias and sets so splendid it will truly leave audiences wanting more. -Aaron Velntic, Made in Pittsburgh Magazine
Pittsburgh Opera Presents Fresh Take On Donizetti’s DON PASQUALE. This production is a Hollywood retrospective with a focus on The Silent Film Era and the Golden Years of the 1950s. –Broadway World Magazine
10 Must See Operas in 2019: In celebration of the new year, let’s take a look at the operas OperaWire believes are not be missed in North America in 2019. 10. Don Pasquale – Pittsburgh Opera. Lisette Oropesa, who has dominated the European stage throughout the past year will make one appearance in the U.S. stage during the 2018-19 season. This alone makes this production a must-see. In this revival production, Oropesa will be joined by Kevin Glavin, Joshua Hopkins, and Javier Abreu. Performance Dates: April 27-May 5, 2019 -Francisco Salazar, OperaWire
The 5 best classical concerts in April: Pittsburgh Opera presents “Don Pasquale,” set in 1950s Hollywood. -Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Hudson’s dramatic values were clean and amazingly physical. Amneris is not afraid to slap people around, and Aida’s reminiscence of her homeland’s beauty is surprisingly sensual…We would not underestimate the immensity of undertaking this opera’s regional company premiere in Southwest Florida, and Opera Naples and its artistic director Ramòn Tebar deserve congratulations for bringing it. – Harriet Howard Heithaus, Naples Daily News
Leoncavallo Meets Hitchcock: Stage director Chuck Hudson and a strongly theatrical cast have come up with a Pagliacci for the ages, downright Hitchcockian in its ability to deliver the layers of tension in Leoncavallo’s work. It’s a stunning, suspenseful night at the opera…Into this maelstrom comes – almost unexpectedly – some excellent commedia dell’arte…Canio kills his wife with a Psycho-style overhead stabbing, then turns to pierce Silvio in mid-air. Finally, Canio is killed by a constabulary’s gunshot and falls roughly to the floor. (This may be the only opera cast that needs its own personal trainer.) It’s all very riveting. -Michael J. Vaughn, Operaville.
Showcasing its high-tension drama, Pagliacci stands alone marvelously at Opera San José: Jammed with lust, betrayal, jealousy and violence, there’s a thrilling and high-tension drama at play to make an all up 90-minute evening that includes a 25-minute interval feel like it gives more than enough punch. Given so much passion and commitment to quality as it has, Opera San José showcased the work marvelously…Chuck Hudson’s direction is loaded with vibrancy and ardour. -OperaChaser Blogspot
TheaterJones TOP 10 of 2018! Fort Worth Opera’s 1950s Hollywood-inspired production of ‘Don Pasquale’ was one of Gregory Sullivan Isaacs favorite music and opera events of the year. Congrats to director Chuck Hudson and the entire cast and crew of this riotous romp!
Laughing All the Way The Fort Worth Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is filled with goofball good times, and great singing.
This is a riotous laugh-a-minute production, originally designed for the Arizona Opera, that is set in the Golden Age of Hollywood but most of the comic bits come straight out of Vaudeville. Chuck Hudson’s rapid-fire direction makes them happen in such a machine-gun manner that the audience supplied a constant laugh track worthy of the silliest 50’s sitcoms. But even the corniest bits worked as though we had never seen them — at least, not recently…this is an excellent and completely entertaining updating…This production and its cornball shenanigans are a lot of fun—with some great singing tossed in for good measure. -Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, TheaterJones
Fabulous singing and full of laughs, Don Pasquale entertains in 50s Hollywood style at Fort Worth Opera.
The comic madness that accompanies Donizetti’s effervescent score in his 1843 premiered Don Pasquale comes with a jolly good 1950s Hollywood update from director Chuck Hudson in a production from Arizona Opera that was first seen in 2014…Hudson’s concept imaginatively incorporates the black and white celluloid world of the silent film era to identify Don Pasquale as “The Sovereign of the Silver Screen”. When the vibrant overture began, Hudson gave his audience black and white movie magic with Don Pasquale starring in the title role of his most celebrated film, “The Sheik of Arabia”, a hoot of a start using old footage and fake superimposed characters. More of those celluloid divertissements popped up later and kept up the fun act. -Paul Selar, The Australian Herald Sun
There’s nothing small about Fort Worth Opera’s silver screen “Don Pasquale”
Fort Worth Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, which opened Saturday night at Bass Performance Hall, channels the 1950 movie classic Sunset Boulevard for an unfailingly intriguing, often hilarious take on this masterpiece of comic opera.
Director Chuck Hudson, known for his innovative approach to opera, created this version for Arizona Opera in 2014…the production neatly enhances and retells this predictable romance for 21st Century audiences.
Soprano Audrey Luna, meanwhile, blazed and bounded through the role of Norina; Donizetti created Norina as a young woman with a bit more knowledge than the typical operatic ingenue, so presenting her as a Hollywood starlet was a superb concept. Luna first appears in a bubble bath (with cameras rolling), delivering the trills, high notes, and other vocal acrobatics of “So anch’io la virtù magica” with impressive skill and ease, all the while performing a reverse strip tease that would have done Gypsy Rose Lee proud. -Wayne Lee Gay, Texas Classical Review
Have you ever been to an opera and walked out humming the concept?…Donizetti wove beauty into his romantic arias and composed duets, trios and quartets with such enjoyable vocal presence that his music is never pushed aside by imaginative staging and concept established by Director, Chuck Hudson. Both ideas seemingly play well with each other, demonstrating that the many disciplines of the fine arts collaborate well with each other, and form a unique puzzle, with each individual piece providing purpose for the entire picture…I found that the overall vision was creative, and appealing. It would certainly be a fantastic introduction to anyone who has a “distaste” for opera. –Genevieve Croft, The Column
Considering the work is opera buffa or commedia in musica and rooted in Italian comedic characters and tradition, I really appreciated the details and style of your update which honored the traditions of comedy. The concept of updating time and place is also characteristic of comedic practice in the 1500’s in Italy, so Bravo from your historically minded friend! -Catherine Turocy, Artistic Director of the New York Baroque Dance Company
Opera buffa lovers are in for an uproarious treat in 2018, as visionary director Chuck Hudson joins forces with maestro Joe Illick for a sparkling, bubbly production of Donizetti’s bel canto romp, Don Pasquale. Audiences will be transported to the golden era of Hollywood in the 1950s, as Pasquale, an aging silent film star — sets off to resurrect his ailing career and find a wife and heir to his fortune…The laughs come fast and furious in Hudson’s ode to cinema, as Dr. Malatesta hatches a plot on behalf of Norina and Pasquale’s nephew Ernesto to bring them together and teach the Don a lesson. This classic 19th century comedy gets a glamorous, glitzy update, with sight gags galore and a riotous parade of pop culture icons, like Carmen Miranda, Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley, played to perfection by FWOpera’s brilliant chorus members. -Ft Worth Opera Website
This bubbly farce, helmed by visionary director Chuck Hudson, re-imagines the opera’s miserly aristocrat as an aging silent film star living out his days in Sunset Boulevard seclusion. We promise that you’ll be roaring with laughter, as you watch the rise and fall of a “legend” looking to resurrect his career in a cinematic world gone Technicolor. -Ft Worth Opera PRESS RELEASE
Music holds its own in Minnesota Opera’s amazing staging of ‘Don Pasquale’: Have you ever been to an opera and walked out humming the concept?…Donizetti wove enough beauty into his romantic arias and suffused his duets, trios and quartets with such enjoyable vocal one-upmanship that his music is never pushed aside by a nevertheless quite imaginative staging…Director Chuck Hudson’s framework is that the rich, grumpy and aging Don Pasquale, who’s out to cut his nephew out of his inheritance and find love for himself, is a former silent film star consigned to “legend” status. It’s now the 1950s, and Hollywood’s gone Technicolor, leaving his career in the dust as he tries to revive it in one bad sci-fi flick after another. Much of this information is delivered in newsreel-style footage during the overture and between scenes. It’s a lot of fun — particularly trailers for the bad ‘50s films like “Tentacles 2” — that proves a novel way to use minutes normally spent in a darkened theater during scene changes. -Rob Hubbard, Special to the Pioneer Press
‘Don Pasquale’ sparkles in Minnesota Opera’s Hollywood-inspired production… director Chuck Hudson’s staging had plenty of bang-for-buck impact…in Hudson’s clever reimagining of the action…Updating operas is a hazardous business. It can smack of condescension and trendyism. Not here. This “Don Pasquale” sparkled and remained true to the warm heart of Donizettian comedy. — TERRY BLAIN , SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
[One of] many reasons to come see this innovative and delightful production! -Minnesota Public Radio
Donizetti argued strongly – and successfully – that Don Pasquale would be at its funniest in a contemporary setting,rather than some faraway period in the past. Minnesota Opera’s staging of the work sets it in 1950s Hollywood, seizing on the themes of old guard vs. new guard. It has shades of The Artist and Sunset Boulevard, presenting Don Pasquale as a washed-up silent movie star adrift (and over his head) in the new world of filmmaking. In his director’s notes for Don Pasquale, Chuck Hudson recalled studying commedia del’arte with Marcel Marceau in Paris, as well as the work of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. “Their comic dignity represented the champagne of comedy,” he noted, “as opposed to the stylistic beer of slapstick or vaudeville. Marceau also drilled us in the details of his own comic masterpieces, working the specificity, style, and that elusive skill, comic timing.” -Basil Considine, Twin City Arts Reader
Re-imaginings of old operas sometimes work; many times, they don’t… The Minnesota Opera’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale witnessed on Social Media Preview Night needn’t worry about upsetting anyone’s moral convictions, however…this version pulls all the comedic stops in celebrating the opera buffa on which it is based…Do the operatic conventions based upon the stylized shenanigans of commedia dell’arte fit into the mores of Hollywood’s Golden Age? The answer: surprisingly well. -William Fietzer, williamfietzer.com
My first night at the opera: Don Pasquale. Magnificent from beginning to end this opera met me where I was. Despite being the novice among seasoned ticket holders this performance planted a seed of appreciation for opera and I am grateful. – Hoo Sook Hwang, Asian American Press
The line between modern adaptations that work and those that don’t is drawn by whether the new setting compliments and heightens the characters’ motivations and relationships. This ingenious setting by Chuck Hudson does exactly that.We as a modern American audience do not easily relate to tensions between nobility and commoners or the inheritance politics that inspired the arranged marriages of Pasquale’s time. Still, the plot requires an eccentric patriarch with an old-world view being pitted against the young lovers who wish to defy convention and marry for love’s sake. This necessity inspired Chuck’s Don Pasquale to become not a titled, eccentric recluse, clinging to the bygone days of his successful black and white film career. Norina, the dishonorable young widow, then becomes an up-and-coming talking film actress. The “old” versus the “new” is brought to the forefront and the Hollywood vessel gives us immediate cultural access to the conflict that makes the show so hilarious. -Craig Colclough quoted on OperaSense.com
In Hudson’s frothy-fun staging, we find ourselves in 1950s Hollywood… Did everything work? In a word, yes. The staging was clever, employing some novel tricks to get through scene changes by projecting old movie footage of Pasquale in his silent movie days, which engaged the audience in good-natured fun and helped set the mood of jollity that’s perfectly suited for this opera…this Minnesota Opera Don Pasquale was great all-around fun – a production with just the right amount of clever staging and slapstick humor even as it sacrificed nothing in the way of artistry and musicianship. -Philip Nones, bachtrack.com
The 55th season of the Minnesota Opera Company has begun… with a program that seems inescapable, inevitable and completely enjoyable… If you want to explore the world of opera, and you’ve never done it, Don Pasquale is an excellent opportunity to do so. If you love the opera, do not miss this staging that is rich, dynamic and extremely fun. – Rodolfo Gutierrez, El Minnesota de Hoy [Translated from Spanish]
The Buffoon and the Minx: When a non-opera fan goes to a production, it has to be so great that it overturns a lifetime of bad publicity and justifies the existence of the art form itself. Which is a lot of pressure. We don’t judge all movies by the most recent work of Nicolas Cage or all songs by Nickelback’s latest album so how dare we expect every operatic production to be brilliant? Yet we do. Luckily, MN Opera’s Don Pasquale is brilliant in every way you could imagine.…This production was incredibly inviting to the audience. The story was laid out clearly and made accessible to anyone regardless of their knowledge of operatic repertoire. -Brian Lenz, Minnesota Playlist
Don Pasquale launched Minnesota Opera’s 2017-2018 season on a high note of musicianship, design, execution and sheer entertainment that sets a high bar for the remainder of their season. Stage director Chuck Hudson’s imaginative conceptualization of the work and a quartet of exquisite vocalists in the lead roles made this an unforgettable night at the opera… Minnesota Opera’s production benefited from Hudson’s continued refinement of his concept…Perhaps the true moral is that this buffet of glorious voices, sterling musicianship, creative conceptualization and staging, and abundant good-hearted humor was a generous gift that only a fool as foolish as Don Pasquale would turn away. -Arthur Dorman, TalkinBroadway.com
Cenerentola served up with laughs and poignancy
For a combination of poignant emotion and flat-out comedic brilliance, you can’t do much better than “La Cenerentola”… Thursday’s performance of the opera at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music — made such a vivid impression… it came through in the comic stylings of the rest of the cast, which served as a reminder that in Rossini’s world, laughter and teardrops can be closely, in fact inextricably, intermingled. The Merola production, directed by Chuck Hudson and conducted by Mark Morash, caught that duality with dexterous precision… and ensured that the villainy of Cenerentola’s family never got too extreme. Even in the depths of her despair, it was clear that the resolution of Cenerentola’s plight was never more than one magical intervention away. -Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
Merolini Have a Ball With La Cenerentola
Spilling out over three levels of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music main stage, the Merola Opera Program’s vigorous and brightly detailed production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola made its happy debut …San Francisco Opera’s stellar summer training program pulled out all the stops in three visually colorful, coloratura-crammed hours…Director Chuck Hudson exploited the broad contours of the Conservatory house to good advantage… The multiple entrances and some offstage shenanigans enlarged the action…A strobe-lit storm scene was a choreographic gem of wind-tossed figures all but carried away by their umbrellas… Merola’s rising stars aimed high, and to a gratifying degree, they hit the mark. -Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice
NO SEXAGENARIAN EVER LOOKED or sounded more youthful than the Merola Opera Program did when it produced Rossini’s La Cenerentola… [which] revealed the sixty-year-old program adhering to musical and theatrical standards that should be the envy of opera training regimens everywhere…A long stairway and a balcony festooned by cutout trees offered playing areas imaginatively used by director Chuck Hudson…with fleet assurance, as choristers romped on multiple levels and principals took on the task of changing the sets… The siblings’ destruction of Ramiro’s banquet suggested a scene out of a Luis Buñuel movie… —Allan Ulrich, Opera News
a midnight girl in a nine o’clock town
Most importantly, the singing and acting were terrific… Ensembles were staged with imagination and a light touch, and the chorus contributed to the humor with zany ensemble moves as well as a beautifully executed umbrellas-in-the-wind bit during the second act storm music. The following sextet of confusion, “Questo è un nodo avviluppato,” used colorful twirling parasols that opened and closed in perfect time with the musical themes and entrances. It was delightful. -Judith Malafronte, Par Terre Box
Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA Shines in Merola Production… a musically cohesive, delightfully staged production …Director Chuck Hudson moved his singers continuously about the stage so there was hardly a dull moment… The famous storm scene in Act II was cleverly staged with characters carrying colorful umbrellas that threatened to carry off their holders with the sudden gusts of wind. Lighting Director Eric Watkins supplied dramatic lighting effects for this storm scene, which was a visual as well as orchestral highlight of this production. — James Roy MacBean, The Berkeley Daily Planet
What makes Merola performances fun is that there is no divide between the principals and the supporting cast [of LA CENERENTOLA]… Andrew Hiers as Don Magnifico hams it up to the max with an awe-inspiring fearlessness. As the power couple of the story, tenor Anthony Ciaramitaro (Romiro) and mezzo Samantha Hankey (Cindy) had a lovely chemistry, partially staged as awkward goofiness. –Cedric, SFist
Modifying a production concept seen before at Arizona Opera, Chuck Hudson directed an admirably lively, if occasionally frenetic, Tudor-set show with plenty of comic detail… The audience rightly cheered the cast…at the end of a very enjoyable evening. -—David Shengold, Opera News
Opera Saratoga season begins with a bang…To open its season, Opera Saratoga gave capacity crowds a sensational weekend…Verdi’s comic masterpiece “Falstaff” began with a bang. It was a rollicking, tightly paced, colorful production…Director [Chuck] Hudson’s terrific blockings for the often frantically paced action were natural and varied…The fantasy scene at the end was almost exotic. –Geraldine Freedman/For The Daily Gazette
A buoyant, funny “Falstaff” from Opera Saratoga: The summer season got off to a boisterous start on Saturday night with Opera Saratoga’s presentation of Verdi’s “Falstaff.”…a frantic scene in the second act was enough to almost make you forget that this was opera…Director Chuck Hudson keeps the stage picture lively and appealing. –Joseph Dalton, The Times Union.
Opera Saratoga has done itself jubilantly proud here: Mr. Hudson made each scene roll happily along… It was a stupendous tour de force, but so stage-worthy that one almost forgot that this was opera…it was damned good theater. –Harry Rolnick, The Classical Music Network.
The Atlanta Opera smartly transforms Donizetti’s comedy classic “Don Pasquale”…Although this is Atlanta Opera’s first foray with the vocally challenging bel canto comedy, this production is hardly a traditional period approach. Instead of being set in the aristocratic social milieu of early 19th-century Rome, Italy, stage director Chuck Hudson and his creative crew have placed the story in 1950s Hollywood, the “golden age” of motion pictures…The chorus is ingeniously used in a party scene to portray iconic Hollywood figures from the 1950s. One of the questions that has to be asked when an opera is “modernized” in this manner is: does it add something of value? In this case, it does. -Mark Gresham, ARTS ATL
In New Atlanta Opera Production, Silence Really Is Golden. This production is the brainchild of director Chuck Hudson, a disciple of the great mime Marcel Marceau. Hudson cleverly pulls dramatic cues from the worlds of mime and silent film into the production – two art forms rarely (if ever) associated with the very vocal, very big world of opera. -Erin Wright, WABA Atlanta NPR
Review: Atlanta Opera’s ‘Don Pasquale’ is fresh, fun and lively
A fresh, colorful, lively and funny show that could easily melt the heart of even the most staunch traditionalist.
Director Chuck Hudson created his inventive staging for “Don Pasquale” for the Arizona Opera in 2014 and also directed his Hollywood-set “Don Pasquale” at the Cincinnati Opera in 2015…During the entr’acte orchestral moments, we see black-and-white montage film clips from Pasquale’s career; it’s one of the most playfully silly and charming elements of the production.
Touches of physical comedy, which are often hard to pull off in opera because the emphasis is placed so resolutely on the sound world, are surprisingly well executed and effective here.
What’s best about Hudson’s conception for the show is its consistency. Opera directors often seek to update or change the setting or time of a classic work, but many times, this only succeeds in patches…Here, the new concept is sustained across characters, settings and acts…“Don Pasquale” is a surefire hit. – Andrew Alexander, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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