Glyndebourne Tour: Don Pasquale

Glyndebourne, Glynde, near Lewes, Saturday, October 10, to Saturday, October 31

“DONALD Trump would be perfect casting for Don Pasquale,” laughs New Yorker John Brancy, who is making his UK debut playing the elderly bachelor’s friend Dr Malatesta this weekend.

Like his be-wigged Presidential wannabe counterpart Pasquale has an eye for the young ladies, and tries to get his friend to help him seduce the virginal Sofronia, fresh from the convent.

Little does he know Malatesta has cooked up his own stratagem involving the widow Norina, the beloved of Don Pasquale’s own nephew Ernesto.

“Malatesta is the factotum of the play,” says Brancy. “He’s a bit difficult to nail down – he’s got two sides to him. In this performance he’s pulling the strings – he’s the puppet master.”

Director Mariame Clement has added an extra layer of complication too, by envisaging that Malatesta and Eliana Pretorian’s Norina are former lovers.

“Developing that past has been fun,” says Brancy, who stars alongside Jose Fardilha as Pasquale and Tuomas Katajala as the unfortunate Ernesto.

“I don’t normally play any dark characters – Malatesta has a twist to him.”

Having graduated from New York conservatory The Juilliard School two years ago, this is 26-year-old Brancy’s first experience of how Glyndebourne works – and he’s loving it.

“Mariame arrived two days ago,” he says. “We have been working with the revival director Paul Higgins, and now she’s coming in to polish. It’s a great way to work – spending time on the little moments that are very special and specific to move the plot forward.

“With two weeks left before the opening we’re getting to that detail. On some productions rehearsal periods have lasted two days!”

Rather than go into a young artists programme Brancy elected to start working straight away – and he says the experience is now paying off.

He has already performed at The Opera San Antonio in the title role of Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr Fox, at Edmonton Opera in Die Zauberflote, Opera Lyra Ottawa as Figaro in The Marriage Of Figaro, and Opera Saratoga as Dandini in Le Cenerentola.

He also enjoys a parallel concert career accompanied by fellow Juilliard graduate pianist Peter Dugan. The pair will perform a programme of fantasy songs and leider about dragons, princesses and distant lands at New York’s Carnegie Hall next February.

“We’re looking at putting lieder online and creating a specific space for it,” he says “It’s how you can reach out to a younger audience.”

When it comes to Glyndebourne’s take on Don Pasquale the look is certainly period – even if the attitude is more modern.

“It’s meant to be funny in some instances – such as the big hood that Norina wears to cloak herself,” says Brancy.

“It’s good to dig into that strong character, and to be somebody from a different time. The costumes influence my movements, how I look and how I talk. I embrace that aspect.”

* The Glyndebourne Tour 2015 programme also features revivals of 2015 Festival hits Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Handel's Saul. For more information visit

Various times, tickets from £10. Call 01273 815000.