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Mozart: Don Giovanni Box set

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With more than two hundred recordings to his credit and an intensive schedule as singer, conductor, scholar and
teacher, René Jacobs has achieved an eminent position in the field of Baroque and Classical vocal music. He
received his early musical training as a choirboy at the cathedral of his native city of Ghent. Alongside his
advanced studies of Classics at the University of ... Read more in Amazon's René Jacobs Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Mozart: Don Giovanni + Mozart - Così fan tutte + Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) / Jacobs
Price For All Three: £61.04

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
  • Conductor: Rene Jacobs
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (1 Oct 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B000SKJR10
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,729 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Don Giovanni - 65 tracks on 3 CDs - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr Swallow on 21 Sep 2008
Format: Audio CD
Although I've never found a recorded version of what is probably the greatest opera ever written to replace the superbly cast and directed Guilini (EMI) this new version from Jacobs makes a real alternative. For a start the period instruments give a far more pungent feel than the playing of the vintage Philamonia Orchestra and the whole weight of the piece is different. Whereas Guilini's Don is a demonic creation, Jacobs' is possibly nearer to Mozart's intentions - a thoughtless and licentious young man. Johannes Weisser sounds lighter and younger than Wachter on EMI - not better or worse, just different. That said, the singing isn't quite up to the standard of the EMI's dream cast, but, driven by Jacob's rather more unconventional view of the work it is often extremely exciting. While I would still recommend the EMI as one of the greatest opera recordings ever made, this new version makes a really welcome alternative. Get both and enjoy the differences!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. E. Potts on 25 Feb 2008
Format: Audio CD
If you are new to this opera than there are a multitide of options out there gullini,bohm for instance possibly for a cheaper price. But, if you want a new (old fasioned) look on an old favourite like myself then this recording is a must! I simply can not and won't fault it. for a start you really do get a feel of being there, which for me is very important when listening to any opera recording. Jacobs and co have managed to equal in both measures the intimacy and rawness of a live experience with a performance that can rival any, and I mean any previous recording. Those who have heard his marriage of figaro will know what Im talking about. For me it was like hearing the opera for the first time again. I don't normally go for period instrument recordings for the sake of it- especially when it comes to composers like mozart who I'm sure would have welcomed the best sound poss. However, this recording gives us a raw, powerful account of what it might have been like to be their first time round. fabulous!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mordrain on 5 Nov 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am neither a musicologist, nor a musician, so, please, take my opinion for what it is: the simple description of the feelings risen by a beloved opera. Maybe yours will be very different.
I love Don Giovanni so much that I would love it even sung by a parish choir. I also respect deeply the work and labour of serious professionals. Thus, I could never give a real low rate to this disc; however, I cannot bring myself to truly love Jacobs' reading of Don Giovanni.
Two main reasons: my (humble) vision of Mozart's work and the cast.
I have always thought that the Da Ponte trilogy is a wonderful compendium of a christian illuminism. In these operas there is plenty of sinners, poor frail people, prey of desires and human weaknesses; but there is almost always space to forgiveness, pity and affection (among man and wife, son and mother, master and servant). These feelings are expressed by music. The instrument that binds and amalgamates them to redemption is the clear serenity of Mozart's music, its superhuman beauty, transcending our nature in a very human way, so far away form the over-human trascendence of Bach's music.
I think that Jacobs' rendition is not the best one to emphasize these aspects: it is to my ear too rushed, sharp, disharmonious; well, it is never boring, neither commonplace nor trite, it is often dashing, but I find it sometimes also a bit coarse. I must confess that I love much more Giulini, or Boehm, because they draw from the score that part of humanistic religiosity that in my vision are so deeply embedded in Mozart (note that I am not religious, so I am not looking for a mass where there is none!).
Moreover, Don Giovanni is also an opera about seduction and love, but Jacobs' rush in conducting gives rarely the time to seduce anybody.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon on 24 Dec 2012
Format: Audio CD
The search for the perfect Don Giovanni has parallels with the quest for the Grail: it is not meant to be consummated this side of the Pearly Gates.

There is much to like here. This is a Don Giovanni that is well enough sung and dramatised. Others have commented on the voices. I concur with the consensus that the Don / Leporello / Elvira eclipse the other principals by a wide margin. The Donna Anna here is a pale reflection of Sutherland; she is also outshone by Tomowa-Sintow in the '85 Karajan.

There are flaws. The string section of the Freibruger Barockorchester is skeletonised. Whenever the score calls upon them to shed some lustre at key junctions, they are weighed in the balance and found wanting. Listen, for instance, to the Act 2 Finale where Don Ottavio begs Donna Anna to marry him, `Non mi far languire ancor'; in the hands of a Guilini or a Karajan, the figuration for strings is imbued with an unbearable longing. Here, it is such a non-event. Their feebleness means that the performance sounds as if it is riddled with lacunae from beginning to end. Miner's-lamp on head, one is almost prompted to send out a search-party. I am all for bringing out Mozart's wondrous writing for woodwind et al but not at the expense of the strings. It is an irritant throughout.

The other flaw is Jacobs. Don Giovanni might be a demiurge of procreation but he is also a thinker. Any cerebral activity in the characterisation here is minimal (and much could be said of the other dramatis personae). Take the Supper Scene: not once does Don Giovanni take a breath to evaluate his response to the intruder even if he still sings "A torto di viltate. Tacciato mai saro!". It's all submerged in the headlong rush to project high drama. The tempos throughout are unremittingly fast.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Much-Needed Freshness for an Old Classic 9 Oct 2007
By R. Gerard - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was blown away by Rene Jacob's Cosi Fan Tutte. His follow-up rendition of Le Nozze di Figaro was also a fresh, fun, lively, and engaging, and forced listeners to this old classic to re-think the way we hear this jewel of standard operatic repertoire. Jacobs did it again with Mozart's oft-neglected masterpiece, La Clemenza di Tito, by breathing some serious life into this serious work. And today (9 October 2007) his long-awaited Don Giovanni has been released in the states, and far exceeds my expectations.

Like his three other recordings of Mozart's operas, Rene Jacobs is making us re-think what we consider to be "Mozartian." Years ago, Maria Callas criticized the habit performers have of singing and playing Mozart as though they were on their "tip-toes." Finally, Rene Jacobs gives us a reading that does not beat-around-the-bush with the mannered "tip-toed" singing and playing we are used to. Like his other Mozart releases for the HM label, this one is dramatic: sometimes tender, sometimes bombastic, sometimes hilarious, sometimes austere and horrifying, full of that 18th century "Sturm und Drang" that Mozart was famed for.

Indeed, Rene Jacobs has said that in a recording his singers "must act using only their voice." And this is what they do. The result is 3-CDs full of music where you will never find yourself skipping over any recitatives. His characters are fully developed and fully acted, with the instrumental ensemble (especially the often overlooked fortepiano continuo in the dry recitatives) providing the perfect support for the action. This is true musical drama the Jacobs gives us.

Much credit goes to Jacob's casting decisions. I cannot begin to express how impressed I am with Alexandrina Pendatchanska in the role of Donna Elvira. After hearing her hot-red-blooded Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, I thought she would be perfect for the vengeful Donna Elvira, and here she is. I am excited to finally hear an Elvira who truly sounds as though she is vacillating between loving remorse, and vengeful, murderous hatred for Don Giovanni.

Sunhae Im is a charming soprano soubrette, perfectly appropriate for the role of Zerlina. She is girlish, playful, and naive, and completely believable in her role. She gives a devilish laugh at the end of her "torture duet" with Leporello in the second act, adding a kind of sassiness to her character. Her screams during the Finale in the first act make the action seem more real and unrestrained.

Detractors from Johannes Weisser's Don Giovanni usually find issues with his somewhat lighter timbre than what we are used to hearing. I'd say to these detractors to do a little historical/musicological research on the voices Mozart actually wrote for. Jacobs, if he wanted to create music the way Mozart would have heard it, was correct/judicious in choosing Weisser for the role. The original libretto (as well as many of the preexisting plays/dramas DaPonte based his libretto on) calls for Don Giovanni to be a YOUNG and licentious nobleman, NOT the aging and libidinous "senex amans" we are used to seeing. It is also true that the ORIGINAL Don Giovanni (Luigi Bassi in 1787) that Mozart wrote for was only TWENTY-ONE years old when he premiered the role, as compared to Johannes Weisser who is likewise still in his twenties. Weisser is great vocal actor, full of the suave-ness the Don needs. When his character is dragged down to Hell at the end of the opera, he gives THE most terrifying, hair-rasing howl I've heard on record.

Lorenzo Regazzo is a terrific Leporello. He displays the apropos oafishness and "buffo" that his character has always needed.

But like all of Rene Jacob's Mozart recordings, one of the most striking features is the secco recitatives. The fortepianist created delightful commentary on the action by improvising his lines, in the manner Mozart and other composers/conductors/continuists of this time would have done.

In terms of interpretation, Rene Jacobs has never been one to follow the mainstream. This recording is no exception. Be prepared to hear some sudden tempo changes. These are, however, an acquired taste that get better and more "listenable" with subsequent hearings. In actuality, these tempo changes make sense when one takes into account the words in DaPonte's libretto.

Be prepared to hear a different version of Don Giovanni we are used to hearing. Indeed, the version we usually hear or see today is more like a pastiche of two completely versions Mozart used: one for Vienna, and one for Prague. The version recorded by Jacobs is the Vienna version, in which an entire middle section of the second act (as well as a few other parts here and there) is completely re-written. This gives us, as listeners, a more exact reference as to what Mozart's first Viennese audience would have heard back in the late 1780s. Rene Jacobs, however, realizing that this decision would mean scrapping entire arias, some of them favorites of operatic repertoire, has included these Prague arias in an Appendix on the 3rd CD. So fear not- this recording is complete (if not more complete than other recordings out there).

I tend to now judge all my other Mozart recordings to the ones Jacobs has released for Harmonia Mundi. It may be because Jacobs has seemed to rehabilitate these old favorites so successfully that I feel as though I am sitting in an 18th century opera house witnessing Mozart himself direct. I truly foresee myself making this Don Giovanni the new standard for which I judge future performances of this classic. Do not hesitate to purchase this one!!! (My only hope is that Jacobs will be good enough to give us an Ideomeneo, Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail, or Die Zauberfloete sometime soon!)
66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
And pigs the world over have taken flight! 10 Oct 2007
By gellio - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My passion for classical music and opera began about 11 years ago after finally seeing the movie Amadeus. I immediately began snapping up Mozart's works - including his operas. My first three purchases were Seraglio, Figaro and The Magic Flute. When the time came to purchase Don Giovanni, I began to do my research. Every guide I picked up recommended Guilini's above all. One reviewer went as far as to say there is a greater chance of pigs flying than a Don Giovanni that rivals Guilini's ever being recorded. Being that I loved his Figaro (became huge Wachter, Taddei, and Schwartzkopf fans through it) and after all the rave reviews, it was a no-brainer. After first hearing, I was obsessed with that recording. Other than an occassional listen to Figaro (my favorite opera) I listened the Giulini Don Giovanni non-stop for a good few months.

As I became more familiar with the work, I realized something - the Guiulini recording is phenomenal right up until the Commendatore Scene. Then it takes a wrong turn due to slow tempos and a complete lack of excitement and drama, especially in the orchestral playing and conducting. So, I began searching for more recordings of the work and made purchase after purchase, which resulted in disappointment after disappointment. I began to agree with the reviewer who said pigs would fly before a recording came along that rivaled Giulini's Don Giovanni.

With the astounding success of Jacob's Cosi, Figaro, and Clemenza (my favorite recordings of these works, I had high hopes for his Don Giovanni. After listening to this recording non-stop for the past two days, I can only conclude that somewhere over the farmlands pigs must be flying. This recording not only rivals Giulini, it tops it (and all other recordings I have) hands down!

What I love most about this recording is finally we have a Commendatore Scene that is riveting, electrifying and terrifying. Jacobs hits the nail on the head throughout the entire work, but this scene is something to behold. He also adds, IMO, a touch of comedy. After Leporello is sent to investigate Elvira's scream and returns and does his "Ta ta ta ta!" and Don Giovanni replies there's a gentle "knock-knock" on the door (as if Little Red Ridinghood is knocking) followed by two strong cords, Leporellos "Ah sentite" and Don Giovanni's "Qualcun batte (there's someone knocking)" there's another gentle knock-knock-knock. Then as Leporello refuses to open the door, the Commendatores pounding is powerful and loud (as it should be). The orchestra, thoughout this scene, creates non-stop fireworks, and when Don Giovanni screams his final "No" it's as if an explosion sounded. The following chorus is truly spectacular - fast, loud, frightening and exciting. I have often been playing this entire scene over and over. It's truly magnificant.

The cast is great throughout. Pendatchanska's Elvira is truly inspiring - finally we have an Elvira on disc that completely conveys rage and a breaking heart at the same time. Tarver's Ottavio is excellent and making us believe he adores Anna. His voice is sweet and loving. Ragazzo's Leporello is just fantastic, and I have no issues with Pasichnyk's Anna. It's nice to hear an Anna that isn't a dramatic soprano, which doesn't quite work IMO. I am in love with Weisser's Don Giovanni and Jacobs (in the liner notes) makes a great argument for using a younger singer, and I agree with him. All in all an excellent cast who not only sing their roles, but act them ... the comedy and drama sinces through in every scene.

As with his other Mozart works, Jacobs allows for ornamentation. Once again, it is done most tastefully and really adds to the piece. The ornamentation in "Non mi dir" is exceptionally beautiful and here Pasichnyk will light your heart ablaze.

Once again, tempos differ here to what we are most accoustomed to and it works better. Jacobs, again, has done his research and makes a great case for all the choices he's made, whether you agree with him or not. I, for one, tend to agree that most conductors simply mis-interpret Mozart. It is well known that Mozart preferred fast tempos in many places that I feel are taken way too slow. You will also hear things you may have never noticed before in other recordings, as Jacobs interestingly brings some different orchestral voices to the forefront at certain times.

All in all, a most excellent recording. Finally I feel we have a recording worthly of Mozart's great masterpiece. My obsession with the work has returned.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A brimming jewel-box! 14 Oct 2007
By Lala R. - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This recording has the signature Jacobs sound: sweeping and vibrant with lovingly punctuated, crisp details. The orchestra here is an assertive dramatic protagonist and competes with the singers, interrupting at will, or merging into breathtakingly seamless ensembles where you cannot tell where an instrument ends and a voice begins. All sounds seem to come from one mind, one throat; this orchestra truly sounds like a human being. The singers are a great cast. Especially faultless is Leporello of Lorenzo Regazzo with his thousand mercurial acting nuances. His rich, painterly voice of exceptional beauty is set against Don Giovanni, here a spoiled but charming youth sung by Johannes Weisser with a deliberately careless yet not unpleasing tone. These two characters and their relationship are particularly engaging. Pasichnyk is a strong, beautifully-voiced Donna Anna. Don Ottavio of Tarver is also one of the more pleasant-sounding voices of the cast. Pendatchanska interprets Donna Elvira as especially desperate and tormented, and it works. Im's Zerlina boasts precise coloratura. The entire cast is excellent, perfectly well-matched, and convincing in their roles.
The most satisfying aspect of the recording is that something so researched, and seeking so carefully to be accurate to the performance practices of Mozart's time sounds so fresh and beautiful, that it both validates Jacobs's approach and captivates and delights the lucky listener of any musical preference.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Jacobs triumphs again with Don Giovanni 7 Nov 2007
By Abert - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Having heard Rene Jacob's mind-refreshing La Clemenza di Tito last year, I could hardly wait for his 2007 release of Mozart's Don Giovanni, an opera that has been my favourite since I learnt to love opera.
Many have already commented on the overall strength of this recording.
I would only share my marvel on Jacob's choice of the cast: there is virtually not one single weak link in the entire cast. Some singer surfaced over the rest - young Johannes Weisser in the title role is a real surprise for a 27 year-old. The three solo arias are not merely well sung, but novel and give the character a brand new dimension from the classic one set half a century ago by the great lyrical bass Cesare Siepi, and who has not been surpassed since. The Leporello indeed sounds peasant-like. None would ever mix him up with his boss, as in Giulini's all-time famous version. The only tenor Kenneth Tarver is a suave, courtier-like figure but with sufficient charisma to become the heroine's champion. Tarver in all respects equalled Alva in Giulini's version.
The real surprises come from the ladies - Olga Pasichnyk is a very satisfying Donna Anna. She isn't shrill or loud, but is full-voiced and pressing in her entrance, and dramatically effective in all the rest. Zerlina is a typical chirpy soubrette sung with charm and expressiveness that is seldom found in soubrettes. Sunhae Im rightfully claims to be the best Zerlina of her era.
The only slight disappointment in the trio of sopranos comes surprisingly from Alexandrina Pendatchanska, the singer who stood out reigning over the entire cast in Jacob's La Clemenza di Tito last year.
Donna Elvira sounds tired - yea, tired, right from the first aria. One misses the fiery outbursts of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in the Giulini and Furtwangler versions. Perhaps Schwarzkopf's Donna Elvira is to be preserved in memories of opera lovers ad infinitum.
Finally, I must congratulate Harmonica Mundi in producing such ear-pleasing sonics in this all-time favourite opera.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Mozart... not as we are used to it... better!!! 2 Jan 2008
By Wellington Pavior - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Over recent years there have been several releases of Don Giovanni on CD... Keenlyside with Abbado, Gilfry with Gardiner, Terfel with Solti, the list goes on... but none compared with the greatest of all... the classic Guilini set with Sutherland, Schwarzkopf and Wachter. This recording had life, drama and amazing voices all around. Very few people thought a rival would come along... well it has... and as a rival in some ways it out does it's competition.

I am a collector of Don Giovanni recordings with over 50 in my collection. After one hearing, I knew this was my new favourite, now after at least 10 hearings I am convinced this is a masterpiece recording.

The conductor, Rene Jacobs, takes a fresh look at a well known opera. the tempos are different, the recitatives accompanied in a way that I have never heard and every little change seems to bring life to this great opera. The singers are outstanding. The greatest performances come from the two lead men, Lorenzo Ragazzo as Leporello is incredible, a true virtuoso singer, and an incredible singer actor. His voice is dark but always full of life with a full palate of colours at his disposal. Johannes Weisser, the 26 year old Norwegian baritone, as Don Giovanni is perfect for the role. His voice is yet to develop fully, and although there are times were he doesn't sound entirely suited to the part, his youthful energy, and his vocal acting, really bring something interesting to the character. His voice at times, has a tenorish timbre, which is expected of such as young baritone, and his sections with Regazzo sound fantastic with the blend of light and dark. Hearing a young man singing this role is great, instead of the older singers who take on the role, you believe that this young man could actually be this 'licentious young nobleman'... a sex crazed, socialite who will woo any woman, just to add them to his list. Other great performances come from Kenneth Tarver as Ottavio and Pendatchanska as Elvira.

This recording is a must for anyone who loves Mozart, or wants to experience this great opera for the first time.
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