Don Giulio does not want his sons to go anywhere near women until they are 40. Pippetto is young and geeky and seems to have the hots for the maid, Leonarda; the other son, Enrico, already is secretly married to Gilda and they have a baby. The latter two confide in the boys' tutor, Don Gregorio, who hides the charming and seductive Gilda in his room. Leonarda hates Gregorio (he mocks her and reminds her of how old she is) and tells Pippetto to tell Don Giulio that the tutor is harboring a woman. Confusion ensues.–Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
This is the first release on CD of this recording of Donizetti's comic masterpiece Don Pasquale. The opera is a cruel, amusing take on the generation gap and has a concentration and vitality that sets it in a class of its own. In this all-Italian cast production Anna Maccianti as Norina stands out.
A red hot ticket at the Metropolitan Opera in 2010/2011 was Donizetti's comic gem, Don Pasquale, with Anna Netrebko reviving Norina, the part that made her a star in New York. Opera summed up the simple truth: ". . . everyone adored her". John Del Carlo's impressive singing and acting chops as the Don are given every boost by Otto Schenk's hilarious staging and James Levine's witty conducting. Leading this opera for the first time at the Met, the renowned maestro demonstrates that his gifts suit Donizetti as perfectly as Wagner. Mariusz Kwiecien and Matthew Polenzani scintillate as Malatesta and Ernesto. When Norina slaps Pasquale, the old man sees how deluded he has been to believe that the young beauty loves him. The San Francisco Chronicle paid homage to this turning point thus: "Netrebko captures the moment that gives the opera a heart it otherwise would lack" Filmed in November 2010, the DVD features backstage intermission interviews caught during the hubbub of performance.
Don Pasquale was Donizetti's last comedy and it's a funny, sometimes subtle work, with finely drawn characters. Malatesta and Norina are playful and sarcastic and their music reflects this; Ernesto is a familiar opera-buffa tenor/lover in his outrage and ardency, and his sweet second-act aria has a nice, mock-maudlin aura. Pasquale also is somewhat of a stereotype. But Donizetti adds depth to their personalities and the opera is far from just a farce: it has things to say about self-delusion, self-knowledge, trust, old-age, playacting, and people's feelings…
–Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
“…Riccardo Muti conducts Don Pasquale in Ravenna - a great celebration for everyone.” This press quote from the Italian music magazine Il giornale della musica hit the mark exactly. Watching this realistic, young and vital production, directed by the 21 year old Andrea da Rosa and listening to a high potential and unspent young cast, you feel how powerful, charming and timeless this score by Donizetti is. This production was recorded during the Ravenna Festival in the gorgeous and patriarchal Teatro Dante Alighieri, in December 2006. Maestro Riccardo Muti shows one more time, what it means to perform an Italian opera with a young and professional Italian cast – an outstanding and breathtaking performance and really, "a great celebration for everyone".
Bel Air present Don Pasquale, a true masterpiece from Donizetti. It's one of the funniest operas ever composed, but it also shines with Donizetti's trademark touch of gentle pathos and some of his finest music. The production is from the Grand Theatre of Geneva, with soprano Patrizia Ciofi as Norina and baritone Simone Alaimo in the title role.
Don Pasquale is one of the few Donizetti operas that seem never to have dropped out of favor (along with Lucia, Elisir d’amore, and to a lesser extent, Fille du regiment). In today’s operatic world, when many of my colleagues find my tastes ringard (impossible to translate, with a combination of “old-fashioned” and “corny” coming closest), I can only say that this production was singularly enjoyable, following both the letter and the spirit of the work. Unlike other productions I have seen—where Norina was constantly hammering at Pasquale so that the slap went for nothing when it finally occurred, or recently where act I took place at an outdoor café with enormous crowds so that all intimacy was lost, and where Ernesto had to sing his cabaletta while brushing his teeth—everything was in its place and allowed the music to come through. Thank you, producer Stefano Vizioli… – Joel Kasow, FANFARE
The first performance and recording in modern times of the 1845 version of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, whereby the role of Norina is given to a mezzo-soprano. Recorded live in June 2010 in the monumental setting of the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. Along with the transposition of key of some sections of the opera, this performance presents the alternative finale that was adopted at the time by the French prima donna Pauline Viardot, namely, a rondo in waltz time taken from 'The Maid of Artois' by the Irish composer Michael William Balfe. The opera is sung in Italian, with subtitles and booklet notes in both Italian and English. .
So it proves throughout this production. The various servants are identified with specific roles, and integrated at different times into the action—as when Pasquale celebrates his victory at acquiring a wife by whirling an elderly maid around twice. (Her 10-foot stare at him indicates she heartily disapproves.) Or consider the servants smiling as they respectfully but with evident satisfaction place Ernesto’s suitcases under a tree outside Pasquale’s home at the beginning of act II. The oldest of the lot hands the former resident his tennis racquet by a pair of fingertips, as though the thing were vermin, while the trumpet soloist who leads into “Povero Ernesto!” is dressed as a begging musician, seated under a window, hat upturned for funds. It’s all handled so quietly and with tongue-in-cheek that it might as well be an Ealing Studio comedy. There are several moments such as this spread throughout the evening…
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal