Don Pasquale is among the last of Donizetti’s sixty-six completed operas. After the successful premiere of Linda di Chamounix in Vienna in May 1842. Donizetti made his way to Milan, hoping to get a new libretto for a comic opera for Paris. He actually started on a work called ‘Ne m’oubliez pas’ (do not forget me) before abandoning it when he got the commission to write a comic opera for the Théâtre Italien. Giovanni Ruffini, an Italian political exile living in Paris, wrote the libretto based on a previous opera by Pavesi. Donizetti was not happy with Ruffini’s verses and made changes of his own to the extent that his librettist refused to attach his name to the printed libretto.
For some reason, the Jazz in Paris series has put together a collection of music featuring these three vocalists. Except for the fact that all three recorded in Paris, there appears to be little connection. The music is still excellent however. The first 8 tracks by Harold Nicholas show off his excellence in covering standards. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", with its last verse in French, is a highlight. June Richmond, accompanied by the Quincy Jones Orchestra, sings "I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues" through "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea". Excellent renditions all. The last two tracks, by Henry Bey and the Bey Sisters, are nice, but give only a small introduction to their music.
Verdi, child of the people, king of popular opera, began life as the son of an innkeeper. He was brought up in modest circumstances. He first received lessons from the village priest, who was amazed by the young musician’s talents. Verdi’s musical education was rounded and complete: at the age of sixteen, the composer wrote fugues, masses and symphonies, which he would later destroy. As he met with reticence in Milan, he settled in Busseto where he fell victim to the pettiness of the town. However, his strong willpower enabled him to pursue his musical path without paying heed to what people said.