Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91)
Cesare Siepi (bass) Don Giovanni;
BIrgit Nilsson (soprano) Donna Anna; Leontyne Price (soprano) Donna Elvira;
Fernando Corena (bass) Leporello; Cesare Valletti (tenor) Don Ottavio; Eugenia
Ratti (soprano) Zerlina; Heinz Blankenburg (baritone) Masetto; Arnold van
Mill (bass) Commendatore; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic
Decca Opera Gala 458
245-2 [ADD] [70'02]
Despite impressive contributions from several of the cast, Leinsdorf's
studio-bound Don Giovanni fails to ignite. From this point of view,
the Overture is unrepresentative: it receives an exciting performance that
promises much. But the fight scene (the first vocal track) is limp, and Correna's
Catalogue Aria is simply not suave enough.
Issued in 1961 (RCA SER4528-31), the musical concept shows its years. The
overly slow tempo of Donna Anna's Or sai che l'onore is from another
age. The star of this production is Leontyne Price's Donna Elvira. She is
big-toned and forceful for Ah! Fuggi il traditor and shows off a lovely,
musty lower register in Mi tradi. The latter is spoilt by a drop-out
Coming a close second to Price is Eugenia Ratti's Zerlina (not even listed
on the slip-case!). She partners Siepi's Giovanni well in Là ci
darem, but it is in her touching Batti batti o bel Masetto and
in Vedrai, carino that she shines.
My advice would be to stop listening at the end of Mi tradi. The recording
cannot sustain the opening chords of the Commendatore's entrance. Van Mill
is less than commanding and the menace of this passage resides firmly in
the orchestra. There is even a suggestion of rushing in the final ensemble
Ah! dov'è il perfido?.
A very mixed disc. Buy it only, perhaps, for the highlights of the highlights:
the solos of Leontyne Price and Eugenia Ratti.