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For potential or full-fledged opera lovers, I recommend the Decca CD of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (Istvan Kertesz conducting the Vienna State Opera), which I have just discovered and am gorging on. Comedies are the true calling of bel canto opera — and arguably of opera itself — and Donizetti’s hilarious, humane masterpiece pulses with energy and style in this 1964 performance — particularly the Vienna State Opera chorus, whose speed and precision resembles machine-gun fire. It puts the Metropolitan Opera chorus, swaddled in layer upon layer of civic boosterism, to shame.

— Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor at City Journal and the author of Are Cops Racist?

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