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`Don Pasquale’ good for some laughs


The vocals and cast are a little uneven, but the comedy is another story.

“Don Pasquale’ won’t go down in Arizona Opera history, but who cares? It’s a hoot.

If you’re looking for vocal perfection, keep looking. The cast was a little uneven, but there was nothing to complain about comedically.

At the top was tenor Antonio Nagore as the befuddled nephew, Ernesto – sort of a frat boy in period costume finding himself disinherited and his uncle married to the woman he loves. A rich, golden-voiced, romantic tenor, Nagore’s every aria sparkled and soared, shaded with dramatic and effective vocal colors. Nagore captured the character as well – part straight man, part witless chump, always appropriate to the character, the style and the moment.

Close behind him was Gerald Dolter as Dr. Malatesta – the wily matchmaker who fixes Pasquale’s wagon by matching the frisky, old rich guy up with his “sister’ (actually Ernesto’s love, Norina). Vocally strong and secure, and appropriately slippery and crafty on stage, Dolter’s Malatesta kept the action rolling with style.

Laurel Boyd’s Norina was mixed. Her opening scene seemed weak and a little unsure, but she improved steadily vocally throughout the night. Still, her coloratura seldom set bells chiming.

However, as a comic, Boyd was a natural. It was great fun to watch her spend and flaunt with joyful abandon, leaving the penny-pinching Pasquale in a dizzy spin.

Weakest vocally and still not bad at that was Shawn Roy as Don Pasquale. While he had the range, he lacked volume in a big way. But so strong were his comedic instincts that you forgot his vocal shortcomings, howling from his well-choreographed stage antics. He was the buffoon’s buffoon, being twirled out of control by Norina. Yet when she slapped Pasquale and headed off to meet her lover, Roy spun the audience’s hearts momentarily with the pathos of Pasquale’s dilemma.

The core of this opera is its ensemble work and the quartet of prime singers made the tricky and lovely vocal gearwork sound easy.

For once, James Lucas’ staging worked, too. Ornamented with details fixed to the music per the style of the day, it synergistically amplified the hilarity of both the music and the action.

The sets too were laughable, the interiors of the uncle’s “lavish’ estate resembling a New Orleans cathouse decorated by Elvis. But hey, this is comedy, and it gave Norina the perfect reason to redecorate (expensively) before the ink had dried on the marriage contract.

Go and see it. The laughs are big. Besides, Nagore is great listening by himself.


Performance reviews, which usually run in Living, appear in the Tucson & Arizona section today because Living was printed last night.


What: Arizona Opera Company’s “Don Pasquale’

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.; tomorrow, 2 p.m.

Where: Tucson Convention Center Music Hall

Tickets: $14 to $56, available through all Dillard’s and TCC outlets.

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