'Don Pasquale' plays two weekends at NOVA
• Jaci Webb
• Oct 6, 2016
With his booming bass voice and larger-than-life demeanor, Douglas Nagel embodies the title role in the comic opera, "Don Pasquale."
Composed by Gaetano Danozetti, the opera made its debut in Paris in 1843, but the tale of a rich heir falling for the poor girl is a story that could be told today. NOVA Center for the Performing Arts is giving it a 1960s twist, performing it in English and dressing the performers in a mod wardrobe.
"Don Pasquale" will be performed over two weekends at NOVA, including shows on Oct. 7 and 9 and Oct. 15 and 16.
Nagel does double-duty on "Don Pasquale" directing the production as well as starring in it. He cast two of his Montana State University Billings voice students in roles, including Jason Webster as the Notary and Malia Howell as Norina, the young widow who is the root of the conflict in the production.
Nagel said teaching vocal technique and music at MSU Billings since 2011 has helped him better understand his voice.
"I'm hitting low E's like they're nothing. That's a big deal for a bass."
One of the strangest moments in the opera for 21-year-old Howell is slapping her teacher.
"I really hit him," she said during rehearsal Sunday. "He wanted the sound of skin on skin, so I give him a real slap. One night after rehearsal Doug said his face was numb."
Norina is actually in love with Pasquale's nephew, Ernesto, played by Benjamin Meyer. But Pasquale won't let the two marry and he ends up marrying Norina himself. It's a big mistake. Much of the comic action comes from Norina and the rest of the ensemble poking fun at Pasquale.
"It's very farcical, that's why I love it," Howell said.
A soprano, Howell said this is her break-out role, the first time she has been cast in a full-length opera as a lead. To prepare her for the role, Nagel worked with Howell over the summer to help her hit the high notes.
"This is an incredible opportunity for me to work with Doug and William (Mouat) because they've both had so much experience with opera. I am learning a lot."
William Mouat plays Dr. Malatesta, an adviser to Pasquale. Nagel describes the character as the James Bond of the show.
"Anything Pasquale needs, I get for him," Mouat said.
Meyer said he grew up singing in church choirs and now he's hooked on opera. He has an aria in each of the three acts in the production.
Meyer said the cast has tried to get all their laughter out during rehearsal so they don't lose character during the public performances.
"It's a flat-out comedy," he said.
Jane Van Dyk plays a nurse in the production, and Rachel Willis, Madyson Feuerstein, and Hanna Jandro perform as the chorus.
Friday and Saturday Performances are at 7:30 P.M.
Sunday matinees are at 2:00* P.M.
Tickets are $21 for adults, $16 for military/seniors, and $10 for students.
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*Senior/Military and Student discounts are not available when purchasing tickets on-line.
Don Pasquale Cast:
Rachel Willis, soprano 1
Madyson Feuerstein, soprano 2
Hanna Jandro, soprano 2
Jane Van Dyk, supernumerary
Jason Webster, baritone
Stage Director-Doug Nagel
Music Director-Tim Schoessler
Sets & Lights-Dan Nickerson
Props-Jane Van Dyk & Debra Gloor
Assistant Stage Director-Kristy Dallas
Photographs by Hannah Potes, Billings Gazette Staff