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The cast is admirable, and Donizetti presents us with such an endless procession of delights one wonders how fashion could ever have abandoned so prodigal a genius. There is no blaming the Ernesto of Gregory Kunde, expecting all from a beneficient uncle, when he reacts with dismayed astonishment at the news his hitherto rational relative Pasquale (Ferruccio Furlanetto) has decided to marry the sister of a mutual friend [watch and listen -- chapter 7, 20:57-22:32]. But of course things are not as simple as they seem. A plot is already brewing that will undo the uncle and allow Ernesto to marry the girl of his choice, whoever disapproves.

Lucio Gallo as Doctor Malatesta. Screenshot © 1994 RAI Trade
Lucio Gallo as Doctor Malatesta. Screenshot © 1994 RAI Trade

Lucio Gallo's Doctor Malatesta has the matter in hand, having convinced Pasquale that he can certainly sire an heir, while determined that his even closer friend Ernesto shall get the high-spirited young widow he's after. The scheme is that the Norina of Nuccia Focile, setting down the chivalrous book she has been reading, shall become Malatesta's supposed sister Sophronia and wreak total havoc in Pasquale's establishment after a bogus marriage so that he will ultimately cry mercy and plead for instant divorce [watch and listen -- chapter 15, 40:30-41:51].

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Copyright © 18 November 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK


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