As is usual with Walhall,
there are no notes, no timings, no synopsis
and precious little recording information.
Perhaps less usual is a Giovanni
shorn of Overture; a footnote - merely
says it was missing in the original
source. So we are plunged into Leporello’s
‘Notte e giorno faticar’. A somewhat
leaden tempo sets the scene for what
follows; modern conducting this ain’t.
But Baccaloni is excellent, his big
bass voice in total control; beware
he fades away as he moves around the
stage away from the microphones. A keen
audience attempts to applaud him, despite
the segue. His credentials are
reinforced by his Catalogue Aria, sounding
on the slow side but the spirit is all
there. I wonder what’s going on, prop-wise?
As he reads he seems to flick over something
that gets a laugh from the audience
…. If voice/orchestra co-ordination
in the slower section is not all it
could be, there is plenty of suavité
... and what a meal he makes of the
end! This is not Baccaloni’s only Leporello,
for he takes the role in Glyndebourne
under Busch, presently available on
Naxos Historical 8.1101357. Musically
this set cannot compete, but collectors
might want to make the comparison.
But of the Don himself?
Paolo Silveri is a natural with recitatives,
presenting them believably paced and
with varied shadings. His ‘Là
cì darem’ is full of confidence,
not as legato as some, for sure, with
more masculine edges. Nadine Conner’s
Zerlina is excellent casting, innocent
without being completely fresh-faced.
But as the opera goes on it does rather
appear she is content to sing prettily.
Her ‘Batti, batti o bel Masetto’ is
nice enough but it would be difficult
to glean the dramatic, placatory, import
of the words without recourse to plot/synopsis/libretto.
Possibly the most formidable,
in a positive sense, cast-member is
Regina Resnik as Donna Elvira. Right
from the beginning of ‘Ah, chi mi dice
mai’ one is aware of her vocal stature.
Resnik is ever dramatically present,
always dragging the listener in; she
is feistiness personified also at ‘Ah,
fuggi il traditor’. Donna Anna is Ljuba
Welitsch, who sang the same role for
Furtwängler in Salzburg, July 1950.
She manages Reiner’s slow, nay comatose,
speed for ‘Non mi dir’ well
Eugene Conley’s Ottavio
seems to be promising, sweetly phrasing
‘Dalla sua pace’. Reiner’s tempo and
some violin lines that seem to slither
rather detract from the experience.
Similarly, his Act 2 ‘Il mio tesoro’
is better than many.
Reiner has a dynamic,
onward-moving sense of the drama right
from the beginning. The opening fight,
then, is set to succeed, and succeed
it does; as does the sense of near-stasis
Reiner sets up immediately after the
mortal wound is inflicted. Off-beat
accents at the beginning of Act 2 are
similarly on-the-ball. The orchestra
plays well throughout for him and is
clearly well-schooled by Reiner.
Recitatives seem to
be accompanied by fortepiano (or is
it a tinnily-recorded piano?), which
might take some adjustment. Stage effects
include a whistling that accompanies
the entrance of the Commendatore - a
wind machine of some sort?
Definitely not a version
with which to get acquainted with Mozart’s
masterpiece. Interesting for a couple
of the singers, though, in particular