"I have heard every recording of "Don Giovanni" from the 1935 Fritz Busch version to the more recent John Eliot Gardiner production. There are good performances in all of them, but for some reason this opera is so difficult that even top professionals do not always "jell" in it. For that reason, as well as my own personal tastes, I have gravitated to only four recordings over the years: this one, the 1955 Krips set with Siepi et. al., the 1959 Giulini recording and the 1986 Karajan version. All have strengths and weaknesses, but overall this is the one that satisfies me most musically and dramatically. The biggest problems with the Krips set are the lightweight singing of Danco and Della Casa as Anna and Elvira and the lack of dramatics throughout. In the Giulini, neither Taddei nor Sutherland sing their rhythms properly--Sutherland keeps a steady legato throughout, which is not a good thing--and Luigi Alva is a tight, nasal-sounding Ottavio. In the Karajan recording, Tomowa-Sintow is rough and wobbly, Agnes Baltsa is a mezzo Elvira with a short high range, and Samuel Ramey just sings his part in a straightforward, blulstery manner.This leaves the current set which, oddly enough, I owned on LPs almost 30 years ago. I enjoyed the conducting, but Philips' LP sound of the era was shrill and blasting, with all soprano high notes sounding like shattered glass, and both Wixell and Ganzarolli sounded wiry and rough which was not my ideal for the Don and Leporello. Thanks to the miracle of digital remastering, however, most of these technical problems are eliminated. Now the sopranos sound full and rich-voiced, their brightness in the upper register coming across with naturalness and beauty. Moreover, Wixell and Ganzarolli now sound only a little rough-hewn, not grating. The only problems stem from the fact that Martina Arroyo always had a habit of "sliding into" notes instead of hitting them dead-on, and because of this she goes flat a couple of times in the opening scene, and the fact that Wixell and Ganzarolli sound so much alike it is hard to tell which is the Don singing and which is Leporello.As a balace, however, this is BOTH a musical (like the Krips) AND a dramatic (like the Karajan) performance. Everyone is very much "into" their parts, everything is sung properly, all the syncopations and dotted rhythms are observed, and Davis' conducting digs into the music, in my opinion, even better than Krips, Giulini or Karajan. The end result is a very satisfying performance, one that I think you will listen to over and over again, which is not necessarily the case with the other three versions I mentioned.One other thing. The album cover pictured here is not the Davis recording, but the Roger Norrington recoridng on EMI which is, quite frankly, weakly sung and conducted. If you want a scaled-down "Giovanni" you would be better going with the Gardiner, even though the Elvira and Zerlina have terrible voices."
Great sound, & perfect singers
Sam Cotten | Brentwood, Tennessee | 02/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD of Don Giovanni is very very good. I love to listen to it. The singers are all perfect sounding for Don Giovanni, & sing like they have known their lines since they were born. Ingvar Vixwell sounds very beautiful & straight as Don Giovanni. He has a baritone voice like no other in the world. Waldimiro Ganzaroli as Leporello sounds great, accept at some parts he sounds a little whiny. Martina Arroyo is perfect for Donna Anna. She sings very clear with very good tone that is easy to understand. Stuart burrows is a great Don Ottovio, with the perfect, & most beautiful tenor voice for the part. Mirella Freni is a sweet & pretty sounding Zerlina able to sing such high notes very easily. Richard Van Allen is a good Masetto with a good bass voice(the character, Masetto is actually sung as a bass or a baritone). Luigi Roni is a solemn Commendatore with a very beautiful bass voice vith a very serious sound. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as Donna Elvira sounds very beautiful with the perfect soprano voice for Donna Elvira. Nobody can sing Donna Elvira or anyone else better than Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. The orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis is very clear sounding with no problems at all. There are many CDs of Don Giovanni available, but I do think that you will like this one the most."
Stupendous recording of my favorite opera
philistine | San Diego, California USA | 10/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful cast of singers and a great orchestral balance. Te Kanawa is surely one of my favorite sopranos and once again she shines here. For the interpretation of Leporello, Ganzarolli in my opinion does the best job out of all the recordings I've heard. Wixell has a wonderfully rich baritone that is so well suited for the role of Don Giovanni. Arroyo's soprano is sweet and lovely Donna Anna, though there were some times where she seemed to lose a little bit of her oomph (but this was pretty rare). Burrows is a solid Don Ottavio. I especially felt great emotiveness by the singers in bringing out the nuances of their respective roles. I felt the anguish of Donna Anna following her father's death and the tense and chilling fear when the Commendatore demands repentance of Don Giovanni and he is eventually dragged into Hell. With respect to the orchestra, I felt the were well balanced with tempos that were well on. Overall, a stupendous recording."
The summit of Mozart's genius
Joseph A. Newsome | Burlington, NC United States | 05/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many critics and musicologists state with regularity that "Le Nozze di Figaro" is Mozart's most inspired opera. Perhaps so, but this recording certainly makes a strong case for "Don Giovanni." Although billed as a "drama giocosa" (literally, a "happy drama"), "Don Giovanni" represents Mozart at his darkest, investigating the nastier side of human nature--Don Giovanni is a philandering libertine, a liar, and perhaps also a rapist. Typically, Mozart infuses his heroines with music of indescribable beauty. As Donna Anna, African-American soprano Martina Arroyo sings with both dramatic thrust and subtlty, and with a depth of feeling that belies comparison with her recorded competition (which includes such starry names as Dame Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilsson, and Anna Tomowa-Sintow). Arroyo provides even tone and an exemplary technique--traits essential to a viable Donna Anna. This Elvira is indeed one of Dame Kiri te Kanawa's finest recorded performances. Fresh from singing the role at Covent Garden, te Kanawa makes Elvira the emotionally overwrought figure that she should be, and she sings with exceptional tonal beauty and control of Mozart's delicate lines. As Zerlina, Mirella Freni is a marvel. So often, this role fails to impress. Freni's Zerlina avoids all traditional characterization and approaches the heart of the woman. The men are also in fine form. Primary honors go to Stuart Burrow's incomparable Don Ottavio. This role is thankless, yet Burrows sings with such conviction and plangency of tone that this Ottavio really does make an impression on both the listener and the plot. Wladimiro Ganzarolli and Luigi Roni are both competent as Leporello and the Commendatore. Ingvar Wixell, as the title character, adapts his Slavic voice to Mozart's requirements with surprising accomplishment. Wixell easily encompasses the range of the role, and his dramatic intentions are admirable. Sir Colin Davis conducts with a sure grasp of the score, and the orchestra makes a generally good impression. All in all, this is a fine recording, and perhaps the best recording of Mozart's darkly-hued score. At the incredibly affordable price, this set should not be missed!"
philistine | 08/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having never really heard the legendary Carlo Maria Giuliani version, I can hardly review this opera with great authority. I imagine it would be very difficult to top Davis's work in this 1972 recording. The singers all do wonderfully. Kiri te Kanawa sings Donna Elvira with both skill and passion. Mirella Freni is a vocally adorable Zerlina. Martina Arroyo and Richard van Allen, singing Donna Anna and Massetto respectively, perform with a wonderful mix of attitude and emotion. Ingvar Wixell's sonorous voice works well in the title role, making him sound like a real Don Juan. Stuart Burrows does a nice job as Don Ottavio, especially in his solos. There are some pleasant surprises too. Wladimiro Ganzarolli is full of warm character as the comic Leporello. Luigi Roni, a bass whom I had never heard of before I bought this recording, surprised me with his full tone and confident projection as the Commandetore. Sir Colin Davis does a wonderful job with pacing, providing the right amount of continuity when given such wonderful soloists. Why pay fifteen to twenty dollars more for the Guiliani version? This recording does much more than its fair share for the price.It's also worth noting that the graphic shown above is not the actual cover, it has one of those "tragedy masks" of the stage of an opera house."