Call it the First Law of Opera: Somewhere, right now, a hapless music writer is cooking up a think piece on the death and/or irrelevance of opera. Is opera dead? I thought so until I started going a few years ago. Doomsayers can cite aging audiences, excessive reliance on diminished corporate and government funding, as well as token appearances on radio and public TV, but opera still meets the chief requirement of any living art: People show up, have a good time, and keep coming back.

Opera is in no danger of irrelevance, either. People still love this ambitious art form that fuses music and drama. Beneath the spectacle of stage sets, sumptuous costumes, and the personal charisma (not to forget the voices!) of the singers, the best operas address the love, lust, and misunderstandings we all live with.

Composed by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti in 1843, Don Pasquale is rife with love and its attendant misunderstandings. In this frothy farce, Don Pasquale, a wealthy bachelor, decides to marry a much younger woman, Norina, who in turn is in love with Don Pasquale's nephew. A comedy of manners ensues as everyone tries to get who and what they want. Oh, and don't forget my Fifth Law of Opera: Eat light, dress nice, and most importantly, pee before you leave home. The show runs approximately two hours and 50 minutes, with two intermissions. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

The Seattle Opera performs Don Pasquale Sat Jan 11, Wed Jan 15, Fri Jan 17, Sat Jan 18, Wed Jan 22, and Sat Jan 25 (Mercer Arts Arena, 363 Mercer, 389-7676, $35-$109) at 7:30 pm. Matinees are Sun Jan 12 and Sun Jan 19 at 2 pm. If you're anal about such things, the alternate cast performs on Jan 15, 18, and 22.