I know I've seen Donizetti's Don Pasquale, today's simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera, before. In fact I am going to stop saying I've never seen something before. Everyone else seems to think I saw Makropulos before. So maybe I have. Let's just say I never loved Don Pasquale this much before.
To start with there is the perfect cast: Anna Netrebko as Norina, Matthew Polenzani as Ernesto, Mariusz Kwiecien as Dr. Malatesta and my personal favorite John Del Carlo as Don Pasquale. Would we change even one of them? Absolutely not. John has honed his buffo bass to a state of perfection which I'm sure is seldom approached. Matthew is a wonderfully romantic tenor. Mariusz as Don Pasquale's doctor is charming and very funny. And the conducting of James Levine was magnificent, as always.
And then there is Anna. The best thing about the Netrebko is how much she loves it. In fact the whole cast overflowed with a joy of performing that is seldom seen. I have searched in vain for a photograph of Anna in her going to the theater outfit. She said in her interview that she asked for boots with higher heels, and these were worthy of the runway. Who but Anna would be this athletic, this beautiful, sing this fabulously and acting to such perfection?
There was an encore of a patter song with the doctor and the Don. I was going to say it was my first, but you never know, I may have forgotten.