Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni – Carlos Álvarez
Il Commendatore – Franz-Josef Selig
Donna Anna – Adrianne Pieczonka
Don Ottavio – Michael Schade
Donna Elvira – Anna Caterina Antonacci
Leporello – Ildebrando d’Arcangelo
Zerlina – Angelika Kirchschlager
Masetto – Lorenzo Ragazzo
Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Roberto de Simone, stage director
Nicola Rubertelli, set design
Zaira De Vicentiis, costume design
Recorded live from Theater An der Wien, 1999
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo
code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 173 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W:
This is "Classical" Mozart at its most superb--no nonsense, no other-worldly or "Romantic" interpretation--the winds are prominently featured, and the lower strings are always commenting. Bravo! The Vienna orchestra does itself proud.
In order to underline the "universality" of the Don Giovanni story, this otherwise quite traditionally presented production changes scenery and costumes with almost every scene, so that the Don, for instance, gets seven costume changes--he's something out of Don Quixote's Spain at first, a commedia dell'arte figure later (with Leporello as a Harlequin-like figure), and a French Revolutionary for the Act 1 finale. Elvira, at first dressed as a man, changes as often; Ottavio and Anna remain more rooted in regular nobility. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with Nicola Rubertelli's sets or Zaira de Vincentiis' costumes, it's just that after a while we'd like to recognize our main players immediately, and not after figuring how their physical appearance has been altered. Sorry to be sour about it, but it eventually becomes a distraction--albeit a good-looking, entertaining, expensive one. A performance this good didn't need a visual gimmick, even if the luxuriousness of it all can be very appealing.
To the men first: Carlos Alvarez's Don is terrific both vocally and dramatically. This was taped in 1999 and Alvarez has since become a leading Verdi baritone; even here he's big-voiced. But he's also smooth and sensitive to Mozartian niceties--he whips through "Finch'an del vino" in record time while gently caressing "Deh vieni" and dominating the ensembles as he should. His is not a spiteful Don; he's merely oblivious to others' feelings and he wants what he wants when he wants it. His Leporello, totally unlike him tonally, is the superb bass Ildebrando d'Arcangelo, whose vocal snideness can be either captivating or menacing, and who sings the role in a true cantante fashion. Michael Schade's Ottavio is classy and clearly at the service of Anna; his kowtowing is textually correct and is not without a certain strength. He delivers both arias eloquently, with fine breath control and nuanced dynamics. Lorenzo Regazzo's Masetto is full-voiced and fully realized; he doesn't seem afraid of Giovanni at all, and his naiveté wears off quickly. And Franz-Josef Selig's Commendatore is grave and unhappy--not particularly appealingly sung but effective nonetheless.
Angelika Kirchschlager's Zerlina is the ripest since Horne and Berganza--charming and theatrical. Anna Caterina Antonacci has all the notes and the long breaths--even the longest--for Elvira's difficult music, and the occasional "hootiness" in some top notes is forgivable. She underplays the bizarre humor this part calls for, but perhaps director Roberto de Simone, otherwise right on, is to be blamed for the reserve she exhibits. Adrianne Pieczonka is a strong Anna, with an even range and a true Mozartian style. Her "Non mi dir" has everything; throughout the opera her power and sensitivity go hand-in-hand.
This set also showcases Riccardo Muti at his best. He has recorded this opera on CD (and DVD) more than once (I believe), but here, everything gels. Tempos are fleet, but the singers have room; the precision he's known for is in evidence, but he's not dogmatic. This is "Classical" Mozart at its most superb--no nonsense, no other-worldly or "Romantic" interpretation--the winds are prominently featured, and the lower strings are always commenting. Bravo! The Vienna orchestra does itself proud; the chorus sounds a bit under-staffed.
The picture format is 16:9; the sound is a very fine LPCM Stereo. There are subtitles in English, German, French, and Italian. Brian Large directs for the small screen with his usual fine eye. The costume and set changes may just enchant you as well. Highly recommended.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Don Giovanni, K 527 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Carlos Alvarez (Baritone),
Lorenzo Ragazzo (Bass),
Adrianne Pieczonka (Soprano),
Franz-Josef Selig (Bass),
Anna Caterina Antonacci (Soprano),
Michael Schade (Tenor),
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (Bass),
Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Vienna State Opera Chorus,
Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Written: 1787; Prague
Date of Recording: 1999
Venue: Theater An der Wien
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