From my piece in The Spectator today:
As the curtain opens on the second act of Don Pasquale, I hear a rustle of discomfort. Donizetti’s opera has not been seen at La Scala since 1994. Its restoration, on the orders of a new music director, sets off a critical flutter and Davide Livermore’s new production, set in the Cinecittà film studio during the 1950s dolce vita, seems designed to tweak the Roman nose of national vanity.
Italy is supposed to be a serious country these days, burying buffoonery and hedonism among the Coliseum ruins. Even Silvio Berlusconi is seen as an archaeological relic, not to be disturbed. So Riccardo Chailly’s embrace of opera buffa in his first full season as music director provokes the kind of disquiet that we might feel if Covent Garden reinstated Gilbert and Sullivan….
Read on here.