Donizetti: Don Pasquale (Claudio Giombi/ Ferruccio Furlanetto/ Gregory Kunde/ Lucio Gallo/ Nuccia Focile) (Arthaus Dvd: 107207)
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This DVD presents a sophisticated staging of Donizetti's wittiest opera, Don Pasquale. This production was performed at the world famous Scala in Milan. It was directed by Stefano Vizioli, who was praised for stripping the piece of any cliches acquired over a century-and-a-half of performing tradition, and making the characters truly live and breathe. The approach emphasised the unaffected brightness and gaiety of the opera, especially as the director was brilliantly supported by a pre-eminent international cast of singer-actors. From the uproarious orchestral guffaw that opens the piece onwards, Riccardo Muti's reading reveals a fl exibility and poise that matches the overall intention to take the opera's humour seriously. In a recent interview, Muti emphasised the vein of melancholy that runs through Don Pasquale, and stressed how much the libretto contributes to the perfection of the opera as a whole, how the composer manages to bend the music to the text, and bring out the deep meaning of every word. This Scala production embodied his conviction, in a performance marked by 'absolute clarity of diction, the right emphasis for every word' as the press hailed.