Sunday, January 16, 2011

REVIEW: Don Pasquale in The Metropolitan Opera HD Live

Bethanie’s Wellcome Theatre, Saturday January 8

I have a feeling that this performance of Don Pasquale will not be one of the highlights of The Metropolitan Opera HD Live. Don’t get me wrong, it was not bad at all, it’s just that it’s the wrong opera in the wrong opera house, with the wrong production sang by wrong singers. The only thing that saved it was the fact that each element, on its own, was very good. The only right thing about it was the conductor and the orchestra. I would really hate to pay US$400 to see this opera live at the MET!

Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is a comic opera in the tradition of commedia dell’arte. It is about the young man Ernesto, who because is in love with Norina, refused to marry a “more suitable” woman chosen for him by his rich uncle Don Pasquale. But with the help of Dr. Malatesta though, Ernesto was able to marry Norina with the blessing of Don Pasquale.

Playing Norina was the opera superstar Anna Netrebko. She offered a very visually enticing portrayal while vocally, the bel canto style was left to play second fiddle. Marius Kwiecien, as the master mind Dr. Malatesta, was the perfect playmate for Netrebko. While his voice and style may be a bit more ideal, his partnership with Netrebko just oozed with enchanting charm.

Tenor Matthew Polenzani was a pleasant surprise. Polenzani tone was even and sweet; and his delivery was sincere and believable. The towering John Del Carlo, as Don Pasquale, was a solid bass-baritone with enough comic arsenals to dispatch.

Otto Schenk’s production was pretty but clunky. The scene change took forever. James Levine’s conducting was clear, vivid and perky.

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