Arizona Opera will close its season this weekend with Donizetti’s comic opera “Don Pasquale.”
“Don Pasquale” is one of those operas that’s not often mounted by small companies. In fact, this is only the third time in Arizona Opera’s 40-plus-season history that it will stage the work; the last time was in 2003-04.
Here are three things you need to know before the curtain rises Saturday.
A fool and his money: This follows the classic story of a bitter old man who uses his wealth to bully people into doing things his way only to have the tables turned on him. Director Chuck Hudson sets this in 1950s Hollywood. Don Pasquale is a retired silent movies era star coming to terms with the Technicolor world in which he now lives. But when he tries to force his nephew into an arranged marriage, he finds himself tricked into his own romantic nightmare.
“I really enjoy this opera,” Hudson said. “I think it’s incredibly well-crafted. It’s well written. It’s one of those operas where you leave the building whistling the tunes.”
The sets: Imagine the world in black and white with movie posters hearkening to Hollywood’s golden age. “The audience is going to see things on stage that they are going to recognize from Turner Classic Movies,” Hudson said. “If you enjoy things like ‘Singing in the Rain,’ where you get to see the Hollywood worlds colliding and the silent movie people trying to be talkie people. It’s the same sort of fun.”
A mime at the helm: Hudson is one of three Americans to graduate from Marcel Marceau’s L’ecole Internationale de Mimodrame de Paris. . He spent six years there, performing with the troupe and later teaching before returning to the United States to direct theater and opera. Hudson said that when Marceau found out a few years ago that Hudson was directing opera, he “told me that mime was closer to the art of music than acting because like opera and just like music, there’s no language barrier,” Hudson said. “Marceau could play the same show in China, in South America, in the United States and Europe and people would laugh at the same thing and cry at the same thing and they are hushed by the same thing.”