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DCist: 'Don Pasquale'

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See my review of the Washington National Opera's production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, published at DCist today. This was my last post for DCist, where I started writing in 2004, but I will now be covering classical music for, so please add that to your reading list.

DCist at the Opera: 'Don Pasquale' (DCist, May 18):

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Donizetti, Don Pasquale,
J. D. Flórez, Zurich Opera

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W. Ashbrook,
Donizetti and His Operas
Plácido Domingo is taking leave of Washington National Opera in a grand way this month, both on the stage as Oreste in a riveting production of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride and at the podium. Domingo's contribution on the rostrum in this charming staging of Donizetti's autumnal opera buffa Don Pasquale is no better than his work there in previous years (balances, ensemble, pacing -- so much was wrong with it), but there was nonetheless a feeling of sadness to see him, in all his starry glory, at Friday's opening night performance and know that it was the end of the Domingo era. Former Washington Post music critic Tim Page's tribute "Placido Domingo in Washington," printed in the Playbill program, says all of the positive things that should be said -- and none of the negative. Worry not -- or worry, depending on how you see things -- Domingo will be back as a guest conductor next season, leading performances of Tosca in September.

Perhaps surprisingly at the end of this somewhat rocky season, the situation on the stage was quite good, with the cast led by veteran bass-baritone (and Baltimore native) James Morris, making his company debut in the title role. It is also his first time singing Don Pasquale, a role that is widely regarded as the repertory's gift to basses at the end of their careers. He was a stitch as the old miser who has to be taught the eternal lesson about the folly of January-May marriages. Much of the gravitas of the voice has faded, but his comic timing was impeccable. Baritone Dwayne Croft, returning to WNO for the first time since Billy Budd in 2004, was a good match for him vocally as the conniving Dr. Malatesta, going toe to toe in the Act III duet, with its pattering parlando. [Continue reading]
Donizetti, Don Pasquale
J. Morris, E. Siurina
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House


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