The run of three performances of DON PASQUALE at Nickel City Opera, June 28-30, ended up being great fun. The director, David Grabarkewitz was a great collaborator and his 30s/40s setting of the show was lively and fun. Zulimar Lopez Hernandez sang the role of Norina with great assurance and style, making her easy to work with. I always find that a conductor needs to understand what a singer wants/needs, learn it, and then give it back to them in the conducting. This was very easy with Zulimar. Nickel City's founder Valerian Ruminski was very funny in the title role. Ben Brecher (Ernesto) and Jim Wright (Malatesta) were both talented as well. Unlike the challenge of last year's LA BOHEME, the orchestration of PASQUALE, in a reduction by Anthony Barrese, was the right size for the Riviera Theater's small pit. A highlight of the show was Barrese's use of an accordion in one aria to replace a trumpet and brass section. The accordionist--Al Schlisserman: eye surgeon by day and accordionist by night--always made the number a highlight. Of course, this was along with Ben Brecher's singing!