To begin with, Laura Giordano. I know she has been around for the last few years, but this was the first video other than those on the You Tube that I have seen, and now own.
I don't remember falling for a pretty face that acts and sings, like a ton of bricks... ever! No, not even Netrebko and her ilk have had such a reaction from me. Giordano has done such a wonderful job both in acting and singing. In fact I listened to a lot of passages with the TV screen Off, just to concentrate on the singing, and at last we have a soprano with a very sunny voice rather than the darker ones that we have got used to in the last decade, with some notable exceptions (like Mia Pearsson). The sheer vivacity and cruelty that Giordano has brought out with such passion, has no equals in any of the Don Pasquale's I have ever seen. I cant wait to see her role in La Boheme as Musetta. Should be great. I have a feeling that she would make a good Suzannah in Marriage of Figaro.
Now that I have got that off my chest, as regards the disc,
1. It is beautifully shot, flawless as a blu ray should be..
2. Recording is superb. Good balance most of the time. The choruses especially, have come out very well.
3. Muti is fantastic. The good recording brings out the conductor's excellence even more.
Now if I were to compare this disc with a recent DVD recording, I would like to name the Florez/Rey/Raimondi conducted by Santi/Zurich Opera.
The Dramatization in this one is very compact, but no where as good as in the Zurich production. Agreed the stage is even smaller than Zurich, but I think it could have been better. The 'Fight' scene between Pasquale and Norina however, is brilliantly executed.
Claudio Desderi sings very well, but I still prefer Ruggiero Raimondi. Raimondi fits the role of the doddering old fool much better than Desderi, whose demeanor throughout the opera is that of a far more urbane and sophisticated Don, which is not, according to me, what the Don is all about. In fact, after viewing the Raimondi as Don Pasquale, it took some time for me to adjust to his being Scarpia in Tosca. That is how versatile Raimondi is. Dont get me wrong. Like I mentioned before, Desderi sings the part effortlessly and beautifully.
Mario Cassi as Malatesta in this production wins hands down. In the Zurich version, Widmer in the same role comes through more as an opportunist and flirt rather than as a friend of Ernesto. Cassi sounds much better too.
Francisco Gatell as Ernesto is quite adequate. I will not compare him to Florez. Both have done exceedingly well in their respective productions.
I am so glad to have bought this. I thought I was taking a risk, but in the end, this along with the version I have compared it to, will probably be the more recent and modern Don Pasquale's that I would be benchmarking.