IT'S A GREAT ONE!
L. Mitnick | Chicago, Illinois United States | 01/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Don Giovanni" is a very great, but difficult opera. It requires a charasmatic bass-baritone (or bass) for the title role, another equally great bass-baritone with a comic flair (for Leporello), two great leading sopranos for two very difficult roles (Donnas Anna and Elvira), a flawless lyric tenor (Don Octavio), and a pair of appealing younger singers for Zerlina and Massetto. It also doesn't hurt to have a sonorous Commandatore (a real bass)who can terrify Don Giovanni and take him to down at the end of the opera. This is an opera better left alone than presented even decently. The 1950's was a great time for Mozart singers, and many of them are right here on this live recording from Vienna in 1954. Cesere Siepi made the role of Don Giovanni his own and performed it many times (as well as on a commercial London recording which still is available). Elisabeth Schwarzkopf owned the role of Donna Elvira, and, in fact, can be heard on the EMI commercial recording made five years after this performance took place. Elisabeth Grummer was primarily a singer of the lighter Wagnerian roles, but her Donna Anna has power and passion. All of the other artists - Otto Edelmann, Erna Berger, Anton Dermota, Walter Berry, etc, were well known for their Mozart performances all through the decade. They mesh beautifully together in this performance, all under the exciting leadership of the legendary Wilhelm Furtwangler, who really finds the dramatic elements in this piece --- at the price of perhaps less emphasis on the lighter moments. Still, this is a towering performance, in excellent monophonic sound (yes, there are some stage noises, but no distortion or peaking). EMI has made it available at an incredibly low and wonderful price, and I can't see how anyone who loves Mozart would want to be without it under any circumstances. This is a great companion to the EMI Giulini set, and quite probably the superior of all the others.
It's a winner!"