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Don Pasquale review at Royal Opera House London

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Daniel Dooner is responsible for this slightly toned-down version of Jonathan Miller’s production, which was new in 2004.

Isabella Bywater’s enormous doll’s house set still looks good, even if the singers are sometimes a long way from the audience and even the conductor. But with some of the extraneous action removed, one can focus better on this largely intimate comedy.

The major returnee is Alessandro Corbelli, though he swaps the role of the trickster Malatesta for that of the duped old boy of the title. It is a masterly assumption in every way, worth travelling a long way to see. Corbelli is the authentic buffo tradition come to life before us.

Taking Malatesta this time round is Christopher Maltman, assured as ever and presenting a slightly repellent, whey-faced individual. American tenor Eric Cutler fields an Ernesto with many bel canto graces, though Miller’s foppish reading of the part arguably helps rob the young lovers of sympathy. So does Aleksandra Kurzak’s brittle Norina, ably sung but delivered with little in the way of warmth or charm. She never recovers from the slap she gives her elderly husband – always a tricky moment and here a fatal one.

Bruno Campanella’s conducting is also wide of the mark. The overture is mannered and lacks verve, while the whole performance needs more precision and spirit. A patchy revival then, but with some good elements and in Corbelli’s brilliant Don Pasquale a genuine star performance.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, July 12, 15, 17, 19, 22

Composer
Donizetti
Director
Jonathan Miller
Producer
Royal Opera
Cast includes
Alessandro Corbelli, Eric Cutler, Christopher Maltman, Aleksandra Kurzak
Running time
2hrs 40mins

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