SFOpera - Synopsis

Synopsis

A young student, Ernesto, who lives with his old bachelor uncle, Don Pasquale, has refused to wed the woman of his uncle’s choosing because he is in love with a young widow, Norina. Pasquale has decided to punish Ernesto by getting married and fathering an heir, thereby cutting off his nephew without a penny. Dr. Malatesta, a friend of Pasquale as well as Ernesto and Norina, has devised a plan to both save Pasquale from his folly and help the young couple.

ACT I

Scene 1:               Pasquale is impatiently awaiting the arrival of Malatesta, who is to suggest a prospective bride for the 70-year-old bachelor. Malatesta describes his beautiful younger sister, whose convent upbringing has taught her the virtues of modesty and frugality and whom he proposes to bring for Pasquale’s inspection that very evening. Pasquale offers Ernesto one last chance to marry the woman he has chosen for him. When Ernesto adamantly refuses, Pasquale announces his own plans to marry and orders his astonished nephew out of the house.

Scene 2:               Norina receives a farewell note from Ernesto informing her that Pasquale has refused permission for them to marry. Malatesta enters and lets her in on his scheme: she is to impersonate his convent-raised sister Sofronia, and he instructs her on how to play the part. Persuaded that the subterfuge will lead to her marriage with Ernesto, she consents.

ACT II

Ernesto, ignorant of Malatesta’s plot, expresses his sorrow at the turn of events as he packs his bags and leaves his uncle’s house.

Pasquale has donned his best attire for the meeting with his bride-to-be. Malatesta introduces Norina/Sofronia and, after a short interview, the enchanted Pasquale suggests that a notary be summoned immediately to draw up the marriage contract. Malatesta quickly brings in his cousin, whom he has enlisted to pose as a notary, to officiate at the mock marriage. A second witness is needed to legitimize the contract and when Ernesto bursts in, he is recruited and secretly let in on the hoax. No sooner has the fake ceremony taken place and Pasquale’s property been signed over to his new bride, than Norina/Sofronia changes from a demure convent girl to an ill-tempered spitfire. She flies into a rage, telling Pasquale that he is too old for a young woman of society and demands that Ernesto be her escort. Declaring herself mistress of the house, she announces her intention to hire additional servants and purchase an alarming array of costly items for her new home. Pasquale, confused and angry, moans that he is ruined.

ACT III

Scene 1:               Don Pasquale’s house is being lavishly redecorated by an army of new servants. Norina/Sofronia enters dressed for the theater. Pasquale admonishes her for her extravagances and attempts to detain her, but ends up getting his face slapped. She saunters out, intentionally dropping a note which mentions an evening rendezvous with a secret lover in the garden. Pasquale reads it in disbelief and goes in search of Malatesta. After instructing Ernesto to be in the garden that evening, Malatesta pretends to sympathize with Pasquale and proposes that they lie in ambush for the guilty pair.

Scene 2:               After singing a serenade, Ernesto is joined by Norina in the garden. They renew their vows of love in full view of Pasquale and Malatesta. The enraged Pasquale rushes out of hiding to denounce the young couple. As Malatesta reveals the hoax, the old man, glad to be freed of his own false marriage, sanctions the marriage of Ernesto and Norina, and joins in observing that marriage is not for an old man like himself.

Old Love, New Love, Trick Love, True Love