everly Sills’ bright Norina shows self-possession in both the vocal and dramatic areas. This is a careful performance, though there are places, such as the thirty-second-note figures in her first cavatina, when it is not quite careful enough. She inserts a cadenza in the cabaletta of this number, which is entirely in order, and occasionally she resists the temptation to interpolate high notes at the end of ensembles.
Perhaps the most stylish interpreter is Alfredo Kraus, though his tone is not particularly flattered by the recording medium. The tenor’s portrayal of Ernesto is the essence of taste, except when he installs a rather uncomfortable high D-flat at the end of his Act II aria, and his sense of line puts the rest of the cast in the shade. Alan Titus manages a creditable Malatesta, though his low range is that of a lyric baritone and his florid cadenzas are competent rather than fluent; to shine in this role, ‘one needs to be able to toss off the triplets in the duet with Norina as if they were nothing.
As Don Pasquale, Donald Gramm exudes his usual good will and expertise, though the patter lines extend him to his limit. He builds a warm, credible character, holding the performance together conceptually, which is more than Sarah Caldwell is able to do with lackluster conducting.