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November 13, 2003

`Don Pasquale'

The Baltimore Opera Company, which started its season last month with a high-body-count Italian tragedy, turns next to a high-laugh-count Italian comedy. Donizetti's Don Pasquale may have become somewhat dated in subject matter, but not in musical sparkle.

The plot involves crusty old Don Pasquale and his uncooperative nephew, Ernesto, who wants to marry the lovely Norina against his uncle's wishes. Ernesto and Norina have a friend, Malatesta, who cooks up a nifty scheme. In farcical fashion, Norina pretends to be a saintly maiden named Sofronia; Pasquale falls for her and a marriage is hastily arranged. As soon as the (fake) contract is signed, Sofronia turns into the wife from hell, driving Pasquale to seek a quick annulment. How will he react when he learns that he has been duped? Will Ernesto and Norina get back on their own love path?

The answers, along with some delightful tunes, will be provided by Simone Alaimo as Pasquale, Cristina Barbieri as Norina, Harold Gray Meers as Ernesto and Armando Ariostini as Malatesta. Claudio Desderi conducts. The director is Stefano Vizioli, who was responsible for last month's potent Il trovatore.

Performances are at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, 8:15 p.m. Nov. 21 and 3 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. Tickets are $37 to $132. Call 410-727-6000 or visit

- Tim Smith

New at Center Stage

Jerome Hairston's a.m. Sunday, which begins previews at Center Stage tonight, is an example of the theater's dedication to new plays and emerging playwrights. The playwright is only 28 years old, and his play has had only one previous production, at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2002.

Directed by Center Stage associate artist Marion McClinton, a.m. Sunday follows a biracial family through five tumultuous days. The cast is headed by Ray Anthony Thomas and Johanna Day as the parents and also features J. D. Williams and Robyn Simpson, with Massimo Delogu Jr. and Sylk alternating in the role of the 11-year-old son.

Show times at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Sundays, with matinees at 2 p.m. most Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 14. Tickets are $10-$55. For more information, call 410-332-0033.

- J. Wynn Rousuck

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