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Ernesto has decided his only hope of fortune is to make for foreign parts. He is not present when Malatesta leads in the supposed Sophronia, demure with an almost Middle Eastern veil and apparently so modest she constantly wriggles with embarrassment towards Pasquale on an intimate little sofa for two [watch and listen -- chapter 23, 63:19-64:51]. The 'marriage' is conducted by a cousin of Malatesta's pretending to be a notary. Perhaps Constantine is perturbed; certainly Ernesto is outraged when he sees his dearly beloved apparently wedding the uncle. Malatesta has quick explaining to do, after which Ernesto can relish the instant shrewishness of the new 'bride' [watch and listen -- chapter 25, 67:17-68:37].

The 'marriage' scene: Don Pasquale (Ferrucio Furlanetto), 'Sofronia' (Nuccia Focile) and the notary (Claudio Giombi). Screenshot © 1994 RAI Trade
The 'marriage' scene: Don Pasquale (Ferrucio Furlanetto), 'Sofronia' (Nuccia Focile) and the notary (Claudio Giombi). Screenshot © 1994 RAI Trade

The Scala chorus has a glorious time at the beginning of Act 3, when 'Sofronia's' demands become ever more outrageous and give the director Stefano Vizioli, who has grouped his cast with supreme skill, the time of his life till finally an array of innumerable hats arrives on an interminable pole [watch and listen -- chapter 31, 80:37-81:49]. Norina wants to go out. Pasquale tries to forbid her, is told to go to bed and then slapped on the cheek. Divorce is threatened, and in a brief aside she almost regrets her conduct, as she should. Her masterstroke is to drop notice of an apparent assignation in the garden that night.

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Copyright © 18 November 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK

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