Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Claudio Abbado, Simon Keenlyside Mozart - Don Giovanni / Keenlyside, Salminen, Remigio, Heilmann, Terfel, Isokoski, D'Arcangelo, Pace, Abbado Genre:Classical Despite an amazing portrayal of Leporello by hotshot Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel and a nice Ottavio from Uwe Heilmann, this Don Giovanni is sorely lacking in appeal. Keenlyside is a fine Don, but can't compare with the best... more », and the rest of the cast seem to be phoning in their parts. Occasionally Isokoski as Elvira lights up, but it's not often enough--one must blame, I fear, Abbado for the amazing lack of oomph in this set. Of course everyone sings and plays well, but this is, after all, one of the greatest operas ever penned and much of it goes by unnoticed. Fans of Terfel--and I'm among them--might have to own this, but your money is best spent with the still unbeatable Giulini-led set on EMI with Sutherland, Schwarzkopf, and Waechter. --Robert Levine« less
Despite an amazing portrayal of Leporello by hotshot Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel and a nice Ottavio from Uwe Heilmann, this Don Giovanni is sorely lacking in appeal. Keenlyside is a fine Don, but can't compare with the best, and the rest of the cast seem to be phoning in their parts. Occasionally Isokoski as Elvira lights up, but it's not often enough--one must blame, I fear, Abbado for the amazing lack of oomph in this set. Of course everyone sings and plays well, but this is, after all, one of the greatest operas ever penned and much of it goes by unnoticed. Fans of Terfel--and I'm among them--might have to own this, but your money is best spent with the still unbeatable Giulini-led set on EMI with Sutherland, Schwarzkopf, and Waechter. --Robert Levine
Abbado and Opera is a winning combination
Tom Lawrence | 04/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Don Giovanni is the best I have ever heard. Abbado handle Chamber Orchestra well as usual and the singing is great. Terfel and Keenlyside is doing a very good work on this and also Remigio.Overall this is a stunning record and dont look further. Sound is also at top level... meaning whole production is. Abbado understands Mozart well and is by the way, overall, a VERY steady conductor and is very good at operas in general.Its a matter of taste but no serious Mozart opera loving person could be dissapointed with this version."
Not enough dramma or giocoso, but still good
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Is there still room for a slightly tweaked traditional performance of Don Giovanni? The opera houses of the world think so, but recordings have steadily slipped toward period performances. This Abbado set sounds like a good, not great, night at the Met or the Vienna State Opera. I favor baritone Dons over basses, so Simon Keenlyside's lyrical protrayal, with a dash but not too much sadism, sounds good to me, and he is well paired with the earthy (but perennially mugging) Bryn Terfel, who is much better here as Leporello than he was as the Don for Solti. If only he sounded less angry and more humorous.
Among the women, the Donna Elvira of Isokoski stands out for vocal quality; she falls into the tradition of lyric sopranos like Te Kanawa and schwarzkopf in the role. The Zerlina of Patrizia Pace is proficient rather than coy, and she's not securely in tune all the time. However, she's note-perfect compared to Remigio's Donna Anna, who no doubt will never be heard from again, given her squally, edgy vocalism. Uwe Heilmann sounds thin and nasal as Don Ottavio, making this starchy pair of lovers even more of a trial than usual.
Abbado moves things along steadily, with notably slow recitativos. Although he carefully makes points along the way, I'm not sure that caution ever works i this opera. It needs more drama and fun than Abbado seems to possess--I didn't want to cry or laugh at any point. The Chamber Orch. of Europe plays with a bit of an edge, trying to avoid overt romanticism a la Furtwangler or even Giulini. They, too, can't seem to find a smile.
If I sound more negative than positive, it's because Don Giovanni demands the greatest performance but rarely gets it. At least Abbado and Co. avoid many pitfalls, and with a strong, youthful Don and show-stopping Leporello, this set earns a pretty high place in the current catalog."
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 02/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Claudio Abbado's reading of Don Giovanni may lack the spark of energy in his tempii but the singing is glorious and in this regard gives stiff competition to rival sets. There are several excellent recordings of Don Giovanni available among them Carlo Maria Guilini, Charles Makerras and Herbert von Karajan just to name three non-period instrument examples. My primary reason for choosing this set was Bryn Terfel as Leporello, who I saw in the role at a performance of the opera. For this recording, Mr. Terfel sang a marvelous catalog aria and is delightfully in character throughout the opera.
The cast goes on from strength to strength. Simon Keenlyside as Don Giovanni is perfect in the role and sings the champagne aria with true vitality. Matti Salminen as the Commendatore is dream casting and gives a solid performance. The roles of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira are nicely filled by Carmela Remigio and Soile Isokoski and Zerlina is delicately sung by Patrizia Pace. Uwe Heilmann shines in the role of Don Octavio singing a solid role and the lone Italian - Ildebrando D'Arcangelo does a nice job wit the small role of Maseto.
If you are looking for a well-sung Don Giovanni, look no further. The recording is beautifully balanced and clear, perhaps a bit un-dramatic in some areas but a reading that can also thrill and sparkle. "
A Mixed Bag
Tom Lawrence | Cambridge, MA USA | 08/22/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Claudio Abbado typically gives attention to details in a score and this Don Giovanni is no exception. The pungent, focused sound of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe gives you a satisfying alternative to other lush orchestras. There is a feeling, however, that a bunch of enthusiasts got together for a weekend to make this recording. There are often minor derailments between the conductor, orchestra and singers when a tempo shift comes around.
The star of the cast is Bryn Terfel. He emphasizes the buffo aspects of the role of Leporello and gives an entertaining class-clown performance. At the other extreme, the men's chorus sings like a football team.
Deutsche Grammophon touts the "completely natural sound quality" of their 4D audio recording, yet both of Ottavio's major arias put the singer in a weird acoustic box. It's as if they recorded Uwe Heilmann in a car parked outside the Teatro Communale. I'm a fan of Simon Keenlyside but it doesn't sound like he's being dragged off to hell (or anywhere else) in the finale. It's more like he's lifting weights center stage. I know it's a quibble but they could have faded away to a remote microphone or just asked him to step away from his.
There are aspects of this production worth hearing but my go-to recording is the 1956 Salzburg Festival performance conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos. It too has acoustic flaws and tempo train wrecks but you get top-notch singing from all eight of the principle roles."
Well sung- undramatic
Tom Lawrence | 02/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This album is very well sung. I can't think of a better Leporello than Terfel. Perhaps Taddei or Van Damn, depending on your preferences, but I still prefer Terfel, he's that good in this role. D'Arcangelo's immense talents seem almost wasted on Masetto's role, but it is a delxe masetto. Keenlyside has to be one of the most underrated Dons of recent recordings. I prefer his portrayal to Terfel's flat Don Giovanni on Solti's. Keenlyside i perhaps the best recent Don in memory in terms of mixing the smooth and dangerous nature of the mian character. ( Peter Mattei is also great in the role) The women are good too, especially Isokowski and Remigio. Even with all this good singing, the opera still drags. The recitatives are taken at too slow a pace and some arias too. The fine singers are the only factors that save this recording from flopping. I might sound like im beating a dead horse, but get the Guilini version. You wo't regret it. Of course fans of Terfel must own this recording."