(photo credit: YOSSI ZWECKER)
Feminists may perhaps welcome with a mischievous grin Donizetti’s comic opera Don Pasquale, performed by the Israeli Opera, while masculinists (if such a movement existed at all) might be up in arms against its feminine violence toward a helpless oldster.
Grisha Asagaroff and Luigi Perego’s direction and sets were conservatively realistic and mostly in good taste. Acting was appropriately comic, though occasionally gliding into none-too-refined slapstick.
Throwing laundry all over the place, not prescribed in the libretto, was presumably intended to be amusing. The revolving stage was effective, though not precisely a sensational novelty.
Like some outmoded European set designers, Perego indulged in a predilection for staircases, whether necessary or not, serving no other purpose than having people aimlessly ascend and descend to add confusion. Crowd scenes were lively and well choreographed, providing the Israeli Opera Chorus with a good opportunity for excellent, vibrant singing.
In the title role, Giorgio Surian was a real comic talent, in singing as well as in acting, inflecting his rough-sounding bass to perfect advantage.
Even his pathetic scenes were rendered with discreet humorous restraint.
As Norina, Hila Baggio stole the show. Her lovely soprano climbed effortlessly and lightly even to the highest notes. Her brilliant coloraturas and enchanting stage presence, personal charm and combination of youthful freshness with mature professionalism were a pure pleasure to hear – and behold. These characteristics revealed her as a singer and actress of stature.
In the role of Ernesto, Alessandro, Scotto di Luzio made one well understand Norina’s infatuation with his intense, radiant tenor.
Conducted by David Stern, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon Le-Zion played flexibly and contributed drive and support to the action.