The Met showed a summer encore of Donizetti’s bel canto, Don Pasquale, in theaters last Wednesday with the Otto Schenk production proving to be a lighthearted romp with femme fatale Anna Netrebko getting out of character by playing a young and feisty maiden in love with a comically twisted sense of fair play. Matthew Polenzani played her baby-faced and handsome young Italian suitor; devilish Mariusz Kwiecien looked like Johnny Depp as the catalyst Dr. Malatesta; comedian John Del Carlo played the buffoonish old man tricked into marriage to who he thinks is a shy and modest lovely from the convent.
Susie Graham hosted
Susan or Susie Graham hosted. She wore a form fitting soft black cocktail dress and a gold rope necklace with tassles, all of which set off her blond hair in a fresh bob. She seemed relaxed and happy as she talked to the cast members as they exited the stage. She introduced the opera by noting how Netrebko will play somebody not tragic but a feisty heroine this time. On this note as the stage hands literally wheeled Anna on stage as she reclined on the set piece, Anna blew silent kisses to the worldwide theater audience before the curtain rose. The theater audience in Walnut Creek’s Century Theater giggled.
The theater audience on Wednesday in Walnut Creek looked just like the theater audience I normally see in San Francisco. Mostly seniors, white hair, which means they got the senior discount of a dollar so tickets cost $14.00. About fifty patrons attended so everybody enjoyed excellent seats in the comfortable and clean theater. Most came in pairs. They laughed and applauded from time to time during the production, mostly with Anna’s character’s antics and her pink stockings, her comic facial expressions and her high-kicking including a set-busting tantrum.
This audience seemed to have just had dinner as nobody brought in food as they do in San Francisco on Saturday mornings for the LIVE broadcasts. The intermission had been edited out of the film and the theater gave out no programs or synopsis, although these are available on line. The audience could have had the usual movie fare and nobody had their Starbucks cup in hand given the later hour. Downtown Walnut Creek also provides a lively upscale and casual setting and lots of shoppers, locals not tourists, in summer clothes. Pedestrians strolled the downtown area after sunset, with a live band playing.
Summer theater encores galore
For more pictures and stories about Anna: Don Pasquale summer encore.
For the summer HD line-up: Summer HD
These summer encores are not to be confused with the encores of current LIVE in HD productions also in theaters this summer e.g. Die Walkure, Capriccio and Il Trovatore.
The backstage interviews
Susan seemed to convey or even create a relaxed and happy tone backstage for a couple of quick words with the singers. She interviewed Anna and Mariusz and Mariusz spoke as an actor, saying actors work better when they know each other and Mariusz and Anna do.
Susan asked Anna about her pink tights and black tassled boots. Anna insisted they were not her personal choice of costume but came from wardrobe. Anna admitted though she wanted the heels of the boots higher and she got that.
Susan interviewed John and Matthew together about how they handle all the lines especially when things go so rapidly. John said they rehearsed a lot. He seemed modest and good-natured, he called Susan Graham Susie.They seemed to respond that what you register in your head in practice comes out almost automatically, on auto-pilot, when on stage. Matthew clarified though that you have to let go and let your emotions flow through what’s coming out.
The Met meanwhile showed it’s calendar of not just other summer encores but also of new worldwide simulcasts for the 2011/2012 season. Netrebko fans will see her in Anna Bolena on October 15. Kwiecien fans will see him in Don Giovanni on October 29. April 7 Netrebko fans get Manon.
For the whole new season’s line-up: Met LIVE in HD 2011/12
Tickets cost about fifteen dollars for the encore and certain discounts apply.