It would be hard to imagine a better performance of Donizetti's comic masterpiece. If there was one role that ideally suited Luciano Pavarotti's voice and stage personality, it was Nemorino, the impoverished and not-very-bright peasant who worships the village's prettiest and richest young woman from a distance, is swindled by a traveling vendor of "miracle" medicines, but wins her hand by dumb luck. The story has comedy, pathos, and a put-down of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (or at least the Tristan story) written long before Wagner composed it.
This studio recording was made in 1989 coinciding with a memorable production from the Metropolitan Opera, later captured on DVD. It's a delightful performance, and a wonderful highlight of Pavarotti's later career. Kathleen Battle's sparkling soprano is a brilliant accompaniment to Pavarotti's still-ringing tone.
"Pavarotti's voice was still beautiful and pliable, his phrasing exquisite. And he loved the role of Nemorino and always seemed happy with both its comedy and pathos–he steals every scene he's in, and no one minds…Kathleen Battle sings Adina with perfect, pearl-like tone, absolute fluency and commitment, and a trill to die for…Enzo Dara is an ideal Dulcamara, just the right combination of huckster and sentimentalist, with ease in every register and with fast music."
– Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
For me, this recording represents the absolute epitome of bel canto singing, with Pavarotti spinning endless golden tone as Fernand and Fiorenza Cossotto showcasing that indomitable chest-voice as Leonora.–Katherine Cooper
The Pavarotti and Friends Collection celebrates the internationally renowned charity concert series that brought together the world's greatest pop performers with the greatest international classical star, Luciano Pavarotti.
Ugo, conte di Parigi is widely regarded as Gaetano Donizetti's most obscure opera, having closed after only four performances in 1832. Its first modern revival was not given until a concert performance held in London in 1977, on which occasion it was recorded and issued as the first in Opera Rara's survey of Donizetti's complete operatic output, garnering considerable acclaim. In more recent times the Italian label Dynamic has instituted its own Donizetti series and has now gotten around to Ugo, conte di Parigi. For its recording, Dynamic has utilized a live performance from Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo held in October 2003 and featuring exciting young Romanian soprano Doina Dimitriu.
Caterina Cornaro was written in the extremely productive last period of Donizetti's life (between Don Pasquale and Linda di Chamounix) and was the last of his operas to be premiered in the composer’s lifetime. Like every other work of this period, it is intensely original, in this case being unusually dark in both subject matter and general musical tone. This is the only opera of Donizetti’s later period not to have had a quality modern recording.
Coming in at a tidy three hours and eight minutes, Donizetti’s huge Les Martyrs, composed (or adapted) for Paris in 1840, is here presented in its fullest conceivable form, including ballet and many passages cut right after the first performances. The opera was a reworking of his 1838 Poliuto, composed for the San Carlo in Naples, which had been banned by the king himself, since Christian martyrdom under the Romans was found unpleasant by the censors and the king was devoutly religious.
Revived after 171 years in oblivion, the staging of Rosmonda dInghilterra at Bergamos Teatro Donizetti proved fascinating for the Italian public. From the excellent cast of singers, Jessica Pratt and Eva Mei gave standout performances. The opera revolves around a tale of love and intrigue surrounding the main protagonists- the famous Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband Henry II of England, and the fair Rosamund de Clifford. Rosmonda is the quintessential innocent, unaware that the man she loves is the King of England and that she has unwittingly become a rival to the much-feared Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor, having already had her first marriage annulled for reasons of consanguinity, is unwilling to se her second marriage also fail. Only the faithful page Arturo, secretly in love with Rosmonda, knows that the Queen is aware of her husbands betrayal; but he too is embroiled in this game of deceit hoping that he will end up winning the girl. The emotional and dramatic development is very effective. There is not a page in this score without some example of brilliant writing, a captivating theme, a moving passage. It all goes to prove how deeply original Donizetti was and how much there is still to be discovered about this underappreciated composer.
Although it was Donizetti’s first theatrical success, the original 1822 version of this violent love story was never given a complete performance because the tenor cast in the role of the hero died shortly before the first night. Even so, Donizetti quickly adapted this role for a mezzo-soprano, achieving his first theatrical success. Opera Rara presents the world premiere of the original tenor version. In addition the recording includes six more pieces written for the 1824 revival.