Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gaetano Donizetti, Roberto Abbado, Renato Bruson|
Donizetti - Don Pasquale / Bruson · Mei · Lopardo · T. Allen · Munich RO · R. Abbado
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Splendid Donizetti comedy
andrew j frishman | Magdalena, New Mexico | 05/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If what you want are bright, delightful romps full of bravura singing, Donizetti's comedies are hard to beat, and Don Pasquale is no exception. The opera's main flaw is that, like Cosi Fan Tutte, its plot centers around a rather mean-spirited, uncalled-for deception, and it is difficult to sympathize with the perpetrators. But the exuberance and cheer of the music keep one's mind off such concerns. Eva Mei's performance is very fine, as she and her character act up a storm, capriciously switching moods as Norina wraps the duped Pasquale and her languishing lover Ernesto around her little finger. Renato Bruson and Thomas Allen are always a pleasure to hear. The only weak link in the cast is Frank Lopardo as Ernesto; his tenor is too often thin, whiny, and strained, although when he goes both high and loud he seems to call up some hidden reserves. He's far from ideal, but he's quite listenable, and does not spoil the opera by any means. While a newcomer to Donizetti would do better to get the matchless L'Elisir d'Amore with Pavarotti and Sutherland, this recording is a perfect follow-up for anyone who longs for more of the same."
Great Recording of Comic Masterpiece---BUT!
Steven Muni | Sutter Creek, CA USA | 05/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Getting the "but" out of the way first...this is originally an RCA recording, and it's for sale for over $50 from Caiman and other dealers, (but not Amazon directly). The cheapest price is from Arkiv, around $30, who says that their recording is an authorized CD-R copy of the original. If you are careful to read ALL of the disclaimer it also says that the front and back cover art is faithfully reproduced but that LINER NOTES ARE NOT INCLUDED. They sure aren't. Nor is there any libretto or anything of the sort.
Otherwise it's a great recording. Don Pasquale was the last major opera Donizetti wrote, in 1843, before his health, both mental and physical, deteriorated so badly from syphillis that he was confined to an asylum for the remaining few years of his life. While Elisir d'Amore is perhaps more widely known, many consider Don Pasquale to be Donizetti's comic masterpiece. This is a quick-witted opera, where incidents of broad humor are tempered by pathos, and vice versa.
It's the story of Don Pasquale, a wealthy old bachelor who wants to disinherit his rebellious nephew who has fallen in love with a lovely young widow. He decides to get married and sire his own children, so he enlists the help of his friend Dr. Malatesta, (who is also a close friend of the nephew, Ernesto.) After consultation with Ernesto, Dr. Malatesta agrees to help Don Pasquale marry "Sofronia", who is alleged to be Dr. Malatesta's younger sister but is really the young widow, Norina, in disguise.
Don Pasquale is smitten with Norina and signs a marriage contract in which he gives half his goods to his impending bride. "Sofronia" then proceeds to become the fiance from hell, making Don Pasquale's life so miserable that when he catches "Sofronia" in an assignation with his nephew, although Don Pasquale is not happy to be made to look a fool, he is delighted to have Ernesto take "Sofronia" off his hands and the opera ends with everybody (more or less) happy.
The melodies in this opera grow progressively richer, culminating in the gorgeous tenor aria, "Com' e gentil". The story is that this aria was a last-minute addition which Donizetti pulled out of a box of miscellaneous music and sent to the tenor creating the role of Ernesto, advising him to use it for his serenade to Norina. It stopped the show, and the entire opera was a great success.
There are several excellent recordings of Don Pasquale. One of the best is the 1959 stereo recording with Graziella Sciutti as Norina, Fernando Corena as Don Pasquale, Tom Krause as Dr. Malatesta, and the rarely heard tenor Istvan Kertesz as Ernesto. Then there's a 1978 recording conducted by Sarah Caldwall, with Beverly Sills as Norina, Donald Gramm as Don Pasquale, Alan Titus as Dr. Malatesta, and Alfredo Kraus as Ernesto. Although neither Kraus nor Sills were anywhere nearly as young as the characters they portray, their singing is exquisite, as is Gramm's Don Pasquale.
While those recordings are wonderful, this one is the finest of the digital age. A 1993 recording briskly conducted by Roberto Abbado, it stars Eva Mei as a gentle, fresh-voiced Norina and Renato Bruson as a rather elegant and urbane Don Pasquale, bringing a charm and intelligence to counter-act the buffoonery of the character. Sir Thomas Allen sings a graceful Dr. Malatesta, and Ernesto is sung by the under-recorded American lyric tenor, Frank Lopardo. Lopardo has a much warmer and darker tone than is usually heard in light-lyric tenors, and brings tremendous musicality and intelligence to everything he sings. (Check out his Cosi with Renee Fleming.)
The sound quality of the recording is fine. All in all, it's an excellent recording of a comic gem, the best modern recording, but it's rather expensive for the RCA version, and the Arkiv version sadly lacks any liner notes or libretto. That's why I give it only 4 stars.
A Zesty, Warmly Humorous Pasquale
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having just heard the Met Broadcast of 'Don Pasquale' with Anna Netrebko and Juan Diego Florez made me retreat to one of my own recordings as an encore. While this may not be the best Pasquale on CD (there is plenty of room for a new release, perhaps with the Met cast...), this recording has its own special treats.
The Munich Radio Orchestra bounces and glides along the airbourne tempi as led by Roberto Abbado and the cast includes a marvelous Thomas Allen and Renato Bruson in roles they own, along with the rather lightweight (but appropriately so) Frank Lopardo and Eva Mei.
The wonderful aspect of this recording is the approach to comedy - never silly, always with dignity intact, and always sung with great respect to the musical line. That doesn't always happen with opera buffo! A solid cast and director and a well-recorded sound. Grady Harp, April 06"