- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : いいえ
- 製品サイズ : 12.7 x 14.61 x 3.18 cm; 221.13 g
- メーカー : EMI Classics
- EAN : 0724355623225
- 製造元リファレンス : 7243 5 56232 2 5
- SPARSコード : ADD
- レーベル : EMI Classics
- ASIN : B000002RXD
- ディスク枚数 : 3
This is, in the opinion of many critics, the best recording of the greatest of all operas. The cast is a who's who of great singers from the early stereo era (1959) when the recording was made. At the top of the cast, the young Joan Sutherland, whose fresh, agile voice, opulent in tone even at the top of its range, had recently hit the international operatic scene like an earthquake. In the title role, Eberhard Waechter portrays a man obsessed with sex as a game that he must win at any cost--and keeps on losing. Giuiseppe Taddei brings depth and ingenuity to the comic role of the valet Leporello; Luigi Alva treats two of the greatest tenor arias ever written in limpid bel canto style; Carlo Maria Giulini leads a great orchestra with a superb, synergistic balance of musical and dramatic values. --Joe McLellan
If there's one overriding benefit to this recording, it's Giulini's conducting. None of the other recorded versions come anywhere near it. Just listen to the harsh, dry rattle he gets from the low strings as Anna catches sight of her father's corpse. We must bow to any conductor who grasps the need and the advantage to using his orchestral forces to underline the drama so effectively---and achieves it.
The second overwhelming advantage is in the quality of the cast. In the mid-60s, Hi Fidelity magazine published a comparative review of then-available recordings of the 5 Mozart "great" operas. The review referred to Joan Sutherland's performance here as "unmannered Mozart singing of a high order," and only Fleming stands as a serious challenger to Sutherland's achievement here. Since most sopranos who undertake Donna Anna are, shall we say, of a certain artistic maturity, it's easy to forget that Anne is a young girl, raised in a very repressive society. Yet she finds herself plunged into situations she can hardly be expected to understand, let alone master. Attempted rape and a father's murder are, after all, hard to handle at any age, and on top of that Anna has to accept that the rapist-murderer is not a street thug but a gentleman, born and bred, a family friend. Sutherland superbly conveys Anna's grief and shock. Perhaps the most telling moment is her recognition of Giovanni as the culprit ("Don Ottavio, son morta!"), but her "Non mi dir" is equally affecting, expressive at one moment of her real tenderness for Ottavio and in the next, as she enters the coloratura allegro, of the near-madness in which tragedy has trapped her.
Eberhard Waechter evidently decided to give us a sinister, threatening Don. Much of his solo singing is perhaps unduly harsh, except in "La ci darem" and the serenade at the beginning of the second act, and in the larger ensembles. I admit at moments it can seem that he is ranting and raving more than singing, but his overall characterization hangs together to make a satisfying whole.
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was an acknowledged Mozart master; few of her recordings prove this as conclusively as this Don Giovanni. If you doubt this, give a careful listen to "Mi tradi" and then get back to me. She tears through the unrelenting last part of this scena, with its superhuman demands on the singer's breath control, as if she were merely sniffing a bouquet of roses. I have heard "Mi tradi" compared to Die Zauberflote's "Der holle rache" in degree of difficulty, though of course the demands made on the singers in the 2 arias are quite different. For the record, I've seen more than one soprano come to grief in "Mi tradi," though I've yet to hear one stumble in "Der holle rache."
Giuseppe Taddei is a garlicky Leporello who manages to sound both smoothly (if artificially) solicitous as he begins "Madamina, il catologo e questo," and very genuinely scared witless at the finale, as he warns Giovanni to leave the banquet hall and save himself. He handles the demands of the role superlatively, and fulfills admirably Leoporello's main role, which is as the intermediary between the Don's world and ours.
The Zerlina-Masetto pairing is as critical to any production of Don Giovanni as is Papageno to Die Zauberflote, and again the Giulini performance gives us exactly what is needed. Graziella Sciutti was quite young in 1959, but never falters in her control or her artistry. Of course she has three sure-fire hits---what other role offers such a line-up as "La ci darem," "Batti, batti" and "Vedrai, carino"? I've seen live performances of this opera in which Zerlina got more applause than either Anna or Elvira, and based on her reading here, Sciutti could easily have brought off that kind of triumph. In the smaller role of Masetto, we have Piero Cappucilli, who acquits himself creditably in the brief aria "Ho capito" and in the ensembles---particularly the complex first-act finale.
Ottavio is perhaps one of the most frustrating characters in opera. He spends the entire evening doing absolutely nothing except singing two of the most ravishing tenor arias in existence. Dramatically, the character disappoints hugely, so it's imperative that the artist excel vocally, and Luigi Alva does just that. Listening to either of the arias in this recording is like sitting down to a dinner consisting entirely of a full pound of lobster with melted butter, topped with caviar. Alva's control, phrasing and artistry are every bit as impressive as Sutherland's, even when he is left with that one forlorn line of recitative after she leaves at the end of "Non mi dir." (Since that one line makes Ottavio more of a twit than anything else in the score, why can't somebody take pity on the poor guy and cut it once and for all?)
Finally, the Commendatore, sung here by Gottlob Frick. Hard to imagine any other singer in the '50s who could summon such powerful vocal resources to provide the role with precisely the supernatural sonorities to confront Giovanni and Leporello in the graveyard scene, or to anchor the second-act finale. I don't know of another recording that gives me goose pimples as the ghost reaches that final "Verrai?" Frick's ascent to that point, as he repeatedly asks "Verrai?", is controlled in a way that still leaves me open-mouthed with admiration, indeed awe.
This recording is to be preferred over the appalling 2002 CD remastering of the original recording, which is uniformly regarded as perhaps one of the worst results of such treatment. The flaws of that version are entirely missing here, and the sound is clear and shining. Unfortunately the rather unattractive album art of the original album, with its sneering Don, has been reproduced again.