Don Pasquale [DVD] [Import]

Don Pasquale [DVD] [Import]

This 2006 Zurich Opera production of Donizetti's popular <I>Don Pasquale</I> captures not only the opera's high-spirited comedy but also its underlying cruelty. Featuring veteran bass-baritone Ruggerio Raimondi in the title role and a fine supporting cast, this DVD has what no other version of the opera has--tenor Juan Diego Flez as the Don's nephew, the lovelorn Ernesto--and his brilliant portrayal makes this a must-see for any admirer of great singing.<p> The basic plot of the opera is a time-worn comedy staple: the foolish old man who seeks a young wife. The Don's doctor and advisor, Dr. Malatesta, hatches a scheme to trick the old man into a fake marriage with Norina, a young widow in love with Malatesta's friend, the Don's nephew, Ernesto. She's presented to the Don as the Doctor's sister, fresh from the convent school, whose demure demeanor captivates the victim who immediately agrees to the "marriage." Once that's accomplished, she turns into a spendthrift shrew who drives the Don to the brink of suicide. Ernesto, plunged into despair when he thinks his beloved abandoned him for his uncle, is finally brought into the scheme and plays his part in the trick. All ends well when the Don realizes his foolishness, blesses the young couple's union and agrees to a handsome annual allowance for them.<p> Flez will make you forget other tenors who have sung Ernesto. His voice is sweet and tender but with a touch of steel in its upper range, adding excitement as when he ends a heavily ornamented passage with a ringing top D-flat. His pianissimos are ravishing and his last-act aria, <I>Com'� gentil</I> is radiant. Raimondi, drier of voice than in his younger days, is a fine Don Pasquale, acting with comic brio, breaking into dances of joy when his proposal seems to be working, and plunging into comedy-tinged despair when it turns sour. As Dr. Malatesta, baritone Oliver Widmer is appropriately slimy. Norina is Spanish soprano Isabel Rey, who delivers an accomplished vocal and acting performance, handling her coloratur