A very fine performance, lacking only a charismatic Don
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps because it is only the soundtrack to Joseph Losey's film of the opera, this Don Giovanni has never come into its own. The cast is the best on records, barring only EMI's classic set under Giulini. It was prescient of Maazel to gather up young singers who would soon be major stars like Te Kanawa--gorgeous as Donna Elvira--and Eda Moser, who's dramatically intense as Donna Anna, despite some pitch problems. Ruggero Raimondi as a suave Don and Jose Van Dam as a bitter, insidious Leporello are quite fine, as is Teresa Berganza as Zerlina. Only the wobbly Kenneth Riegel disappoints as Don Ottavio, but hardly anyone succeeds vocally in the fiendish arias assigned to him.
Maazel pulls no perverse punches. He's mostly straightforward, although at times he takes pains to underline the drama for the camera, which is all to the good. From the fierce opening scene you'd think this was going to be an angry, thuggish Don (I wish it had been), but soon Raimondi lapses into smooth, somewhat bland singing that emphasizes mellifluous tone over character. Too bad, since everything else is outstanding. Sony's sonics are fine, and the orchestra plays very well.
In sum, this almost great Don Giovanni deserves a listen. It's among the best on the market, lacking only a charismatic Don to rise to the very top. If you object to Wachter's brutishness on the Giulini set or dislike the gloss of Karajan's conducting on the stary DG set, this one from Maazel may turn into a first choice."
Roberto | SF, USA | 12/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've heard several Dons. Giulini is one the most overrated recording in history; Karajan is dull; both Furtwangler are great, but the sound are hard to listen to; Davis is ok, but doesn't thrill me that much.
This one is clearly the winner. Not only because of Raimondi and Van Dam (both great); but mainly due to the amazing female cast. Te Kanawa sings here much better than on the Davis record. She is Dona Elvira! Even Schwarzkopf didn't impress me after have listened to this record. Edda Moser and Teresa Berganza are also unbelievable. Just listen to "Forse Un Giorno" or "Vedrai, Carino" to understand what I mean.
This may not be the best opera record ever recorded, but it is the one that I've listened the most.
My second Don is the Klemperer recording. It is a great recording, but the female cast doesn't compare to this one. "
An outstanding collection from the film and, perhaps, opera
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 11/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not much for opera. I attend one in concert every 5-10 years and don't own a single recording of any opera. I own collections from my favorites that I've seen live -- "Don Giovanni", "Barber of Seville", "Otello" and "Fidelio".
I've owned several collections of highlights from "Don Giovanni", which is to opera what Beethoven's 9th is to symphonies. I've also seen it in performance twice and saw Karajan conduct it live once on PBS. What shocked me most about the latter were two things: the titanic Karajan was a short guy, probably about 5-5, and appeared a dwarf on stage after the production; and the final scene, where the Don goes to Hell, was constructed electronically with bizarre concentric circles into which the Don was swallowed and disappeared. The final go to Hell scene in the film "Amadeus" is much better.
I don't know what the final scene is like in this performance since I've never seen the movie. But I've savored the "soundtrack" for almost three decades. It is clearly the best work Lorin Maazel has ever done, better than his 1960s Tchaikovsky and Sibelus symphonies, the second and third best things he's ever done.
When first I bought this highlight package the Internet was still a military-only operation and the score was not available in USA. Eschewing a scratchy LP in 1979, I bought the chrome cassette from a British dealer. I later burned a high quality CD from my cassette. You, of course, have the advantage of both the Internet and the availability of this wonderful music here in a direct to CD recording.
This is a dramatic telling of the story of Don Juan, his ribald antics, his contribution to the death of a woman and her father, and his comeuppance when one of the most bizarre figures in all art -- the commendatore -- comes to life and sentences him to Hell, where the Don goes in a blazing scene.
Raimondi's Don is dramatic and dynamic and he sings the part very well. The other members of the cast, Edda Moser as Donna Anna, Kiri Te Kanawa as Donna Elvira, Kenneth Riegel as Don Ottavio, Jaoyn Macurdy as the Commendatore, Jose Van Dam as Leporello, Malcom King as Masetto and a then not well-known Teresa Berganza as Zerlina -- are, in a word, wonderful. The singing on this collection is beyond criticism and continues to stand up to the best recorded accounts almost 30 years later.
The sound on this recording is very good, natural and captured as if taken from a staged recording. No accommodation is needed for the sound, which is five by five and warm. If you want an introduction to the wonders of "Don Giovanni" you can't do better than this.
An unforgettable experience of music & movie making
Kuszel Marc | France | 03/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't believe this item needs any special introduction at all. Actually this is the original soundtrack of the very well known movie "Don Giovanni" that Joseph Losey ("Mr Klein", "Accident", "The servant", "The Go-Between") made in 1978. This is undisputabely one of the most beautiful movies Losey ever made.
About the musical performance: look at the casting and you'll have the explanation you would need anyway: Ruggero Raimondi, Edda Moser, Kiri Te Kanawa, José van Dam, Teresa Berganza, etc. All of them give a fantastic musical performance. The very same is to be said about Lorin Maazel's conducting which is quite exceptional in all respects.
About this 3 Cds set: the complete opera written by Mozart was recorded on June 22 - July 6, 1978 in Paris and its first issue on the vinyl LP format was in 1979. Soon after the first generation of audio CDs made their entrance on the marketplace some 30 years ago, this recording was available. In 2006, Sony made the actual remastered edition and the result is great indeed, very much so: the whole thing sounds really fantastic & is offered at a very attractive price. These are the very reasons why it seems to me that this item fully desserves a 5 Stars-amazon rating. Thank you very much for reading this review."