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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Mozart: Don Giovanni
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 September 2017
I love opera and “Don Giovanni” is one of my very favourites. I own quite a few versions of this work and thought that it might be of use to post reviews of them online. I have already posted a review of the Giulini recording and this remains my number one recommendation.

I also own a number of highlights compilations, including Daniel Barenboim’s first recording. This is no longer easily available as a CD, but it can be downloaded, so I’m posting a review nevertheless.

The basis for this recording was an Edinburgh Festival production from the early 1970s. To be honest, I’ve no great affection for this version and Barenboim’s slow tempi strain some of his singers, notably the Don Ottavio of Luigi Alva. Roger Soyer reveals a polished light bass voice in the title role and it is always good to encounter Heather Harper (a slightly matronly Elvira) and Helen Donath (a charming Zerlina), but the main reason to hear this set would be to catch the seasoned Leporello of Geraint Evans.
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VINE VOICEon 11 May 2006
At the time of issue (May 2006) this is the only recorded example of Leonie Rysanek in a Mozart role, and herein lies the value and fascination of this set.

Characterisation was always Rysanek's forte, and her Elvira is no exception. When she's angry, she's very angry, and when she's distraught she communicates depair with equal force. This is a big-voiced, generously sung performance, even though one is aware of a degree of caution (unusual in any Rysanek performance) in negotiating the notes, which she does very creditably. As you'd expect, the top of the voice is glorious and secure; the pay-off is that some low notes are virtually inaudible and runs aren't particularly well articulated. Nonetheless an artistocratic, individual and moving Elvira. The most serious drawback is that "Mi tradi" was not performed. To quote the liner note "...because Rosbaud did not want Rysanek to sing it for unknown reasons"! I'm sure that if he'd asked her, she'd have come up with some very convincing reasons for restoring it!

One more thing: in this recording, you always know when Rysanek enters or exits, as she appears to be the only member of the cast wearing boots! One must now hope that Walhall can unearth Rysanek's other Mozart roles. The only time Rysanek sang the Countess was at this same Aix Festival of 1952, and in 1956 she sang Donna Anna and Elettra. She herself said she wasn't right for most of these roles, but she thought Elettra was acceptable. Let's hear these performances and make up our own minds!

Most of the other singers' performances are known from other recordings. Rehfuss and Cortis offer characterful, well-sung, but not particularly charismatic portrayals of Giovanni and Leporello and Carla Martinis, after a bumpy start, is a powerful vengeful Anna, brilliant and accurate. Like Rysanek, she the sort of bigger-voiced singer who would often be invited to sing Mozart until the 1950s when, broadly speaking, less dramatic and more accurate singing was demanded. Husband and wife Leopold Simoneau and Pietette Alarie are excellent in every way as Ottavio and Zerlina, roles for which they were justifiably famous. The have Mozartian style at their fingertips and would be completely at home in today's Mozart performances.

Rosbaud's conducting is always interesting. The opening chords of the overture are delivered with an amazing power that projects us instantly into the dark,shadowy world of Don Giovanni. If this impetus is dissipated as the performance progresses, that's because the conductor lets the music flow without interference, so that what we hear is Mozart, not Rosbaud.

The sound isn't bad for a 1952 broadcast. Slightly congested, with harsh moments, by and large the voices come through well enough. The piano continuo is sometimes inaudible and the microphones pick up odd details from the orchestra from time to time, though these can be quite revealing of Mozart's genius and how he achieved his effects!

Incidentally, full marks to Wallhall, who are honest enough to mention two short breaks in the recording, during "Non ti fidar, o misera" and in Leproello's "Lo deggio ad ogni patto". But don't let this put you off a fascinating rarity from Leonie Rysanek, one of the greatest artists of the last century.
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on 10 July 2014
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on 7 August 2017
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 January 2015
Previous reviewers have got this covered so I won't add much other than to observe that I think they are a tad generous about the quality of the radio broadcast mono sound, which is fuzzy, crumbly and occasionally distorted in parts - for which I deduct a star from an otherwise sparkling performance by a cast whose starriness is unmatchable today. If only the sound were better, this could easily be a first choice.

The young Leontyne Price sometimes sounds a little shrill and gusty but her otherwise grandly sung Donna Anna is extraordinarily compelling. Schwarzkopf delivers her familiar wild cat Elvira, singing with a slightly tremulous fervour that I find most apt ("La povera ragazza è pazza amici miei!") in an intense and vivid characterisation. Her Elvira is well represented on disc elsewhere but this is among her most lively accounts. Walter Berry is occasionally almost over-expressive such that his music becomes momentarily obscured by vocal effects and inflections but his striking portrayal of Leporello gives us a lovable scoundrel. He is smart and funny and the quickfire dialogue between master and servant sounds very Italianate - indeed there is very little of the Germanic "qvesto" problem here. Waechter is smooth and virile as he is for Giulini even if Ghiaurov, live for Karajan at Salzburg ten years later is more imposing. However, some will prefer a baritone to a bass, in which case Waechter is the man. The elegant Valletti really makes something both beautiful and believable of the usually wimpish Ottavio. Zaccaria is suitably cavernous and menacing as the Commendatore, Sciutti almost as charming as Freni and considerably more so than the merely competent Olivera Miljakovic in 1970. A young Panerai was in the same year already singing Amfortas for Gui at La Scala but is incandescent as Masetto, adapting easily here to portraying the blustery, wronged contadino and demonstrating that Karajan could command casting in depth.

Karajan invariably took Mozart fast in that period of his career and rushes his fences in an attempt to lay the ghost of Furtwängler, but his urgency is far preferable to his inert recording from 1985,which never takes off. Waechter has a hard time keeping up with him in the Champagne Aria and sounds rather rough there; otherwise, I find the sheer pell-mell pace of the overture, in which the VPO strings perform wonders keeping up with their conductor, truly exhilarating - and he knows when to relax, as you may hear in the tender moments.
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on 23 July 2017
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on 4 September 2011
This Don Giovanni is a golden proof - if you didn't already knew - of Erich Leinsdorf's first class conducting. He knews this music in a way perhaps only Dr. Klemperer has done.
First and foremost: you really get straight into this opera as a very dramatic work. The first cords makes you sit up and will keep you on the edge of your chair. The artists are first class, all of them. I know that many consider Miss Nilsson having a too dramatic kind of voice for Mozart, but why do you think two of the world's greatest Mozartians, Dr. Leinsdorf and Dr. Böhm, chosed her as their Donna Anna? Well, she has just the right dramatic force for this powerful role charachter. Here she sings with a beautiful, silvery tone.
As this recording has not been available on CD for a long time, I bought it on used LP's from the U.S, recently. The stereo version has a magnificient sound, no less. As the records were too damaged I had to return the box and buy an available mono version. It's wonderful, but the sound much more constricted. On this CD edition the sound has been restored with care.
Urania's new release comes as a true gift, and the sound has been processed and is excellent.
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on 20 December 2016
I rather enjoy Italian Mozart sung in German but for me the reason for buying this set is the Don Ottavio of Julius Patzak. Wonderful
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on 2 July 2015
What a superb performance of a sublime opera. Despite the ludicrous storyline, if I am feeling down, this is guaranteed to raise the spirits; strange really given the subject, but it's in Italian and I can't really follow it closely. The music is sublime and the acting so committed and earnest that this is a complete delight. A magnificent tour de force.
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on 3 December 2013
One of the best ever versions of this great opera. Colin Davis wonderful and stand out singers are Kiri the Kanawa and Stuart Burrows.
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