PRESS RELEASE: Donizetti Opera to be set in 1960s South Philadelphia

January 17, 2023


PRESS RELEASE: Production of Donizetti opera to be set in 1960s South Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA (January 17, 2023) – Grab some gabagool and proshoot this February for a comic opera set in South Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) will present Gaetano Donizetti’s “opera buffa” Don Pasquale this February – with a hometown twist. Audiences will be taken on a sentimental adventure, as the opera will be set in mid-60s South Philadelphia. This production will evoke nostalgia for that time, from the golden age of the Italian Market to plastic covers on furniture.

Be transported back to this era of Dick Clark’s Bandstand, Frankie Avalon, and Wilt Chamberlin on the Sixers. Have Sunday night dinner with the Italian family that you never knew you wanted (or needed!) in your life. Audiences can also expect to see some local products and signage featured on stage.

AVA’s award-winning Resident Artists will perform in this production, with AVA alumnus and international opera star Richard Troxell (AVA ’92) directing, and Richard A. Raub conducting the AVA Opera Orchestra.

When deciding upon the setting for the opera, Mr. Troxell drew from personal experience:

“I’m new to Don Pasquale, and when I was studying the opera, I immediately thought of my Uncle Romeo in South Philadelphia,” said Troxell on his inspiration. “This 69-year-old bachelor living in his brownstone in South Philly – it just made sense.”

Instead of the servants that are traditionally in this opera, they will instead be the nosy neighbors sitting on stoops,” said Troxell. “They’re the ‘I know a guy’ guys. “

This is the third time Maestro Raub will conduct the opera, the last time being in AVA’s 2009 production which starred international opera stars Corinne Winters, Steven LaBrie, and Taylor Stayton.

“When this opera was first composed, it was written for the greatest voices in the world at that time,” said Maestro Raub. “This opera is such a joy, and I’m thrilled to be doing it again.”


The venerable Don Pasquale has chosen a wife for his nephew Ernesto, who wants to marry Norina. The elderly Don disapproves and decides to find a wealthy bride of his own. With Norina in disguise and a fake wedding, the couple and their friend Dr. Malatesta make Don Pasquale rue the day he ever considered marriage!

Don Pasquale will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Performance Dates:

All performances will be held at AVA’s Helen Corning Warden Theater at 7:30 PM

Address: 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

For tickets and more information, please visit:

This production is generously sponsored by The Gray Charitable Trust

CAST (dates to be announced at a later time)

Don Pasquale               

Dr. Malatesta                    




The mission of the Academy of Vocal Arts is to be the world’s premier institution for training young artists as international opera soloists. Through rigorous instruction and coaching, and by presentations of Resident Artists from around the world in concerts, oratorios, public programs and fully staged professional opera productions, AVA will train artists with the high potential for career success while enriching lives in Philadelphia and beyond. Gifted singers come from throughout the world to seek the exceptional guidance and training that AVA offers. Admission is determined by competitive annual auditions.   AVA is distinguished by its reputation for high quality performances that are acclaimed by critics locally, nationally and internationally. Each year, AVA Resident Artists are presented in four or five fully-staged opera productions accompanied by orchestra. Resident Artists are cast in leading roles that they will in all likelihood continue to perform for the rest of their careers.    

Media Contact: Camille Mola PR and Communications Manager
AVA #: 215-735-1685