> Mozart - Don Giovanni [RJF]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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W. A. MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni.

Don Giovanni, Giuseppe Taddei (bar), Leporello, Italo Tajo (bass), Don Ottavio, Cesare Vallettl (ten). Masetto, Vito Susca (bar), Anna, Maria Verna (sop),. Elvira, Carla Gavazzi (sop),. Zerlina. Elda Ribetti (sop).
Orchestra and chorus of Turin Radio.
Cond. Max Rudolf
Recording. Turin, 1955. mono - bargain price
WARNER FONIT 0927 43561 [3 CDs: 54.48+51.21+56.58]


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In the late-1940s through to the mid-1950s the Italian Cetra opera catalogue, from which this issue derives, was far ahead of any rival in respect of both breadth and depth of recorded repertoire. They recorded using largely native singers performing in the front rank and provincial theatres of Italy. Tebaldi's first recordings appeared on the label, and it was they who recorded Callas's only studio Violetta, regrettably with rather provincial support! On this Don Giovanni, three of the male principal singers all had considerable international careers, and whilst the remainder of the cast are more provincial, they are by no means inadequate.

The name of Taddei, as the Don, will be recognised by many. Of him the Italians said, "we gave Gobbi to the world but kept Taddei to ourselves". Not strictly true. He is the Leporello on Giulini's magical 1959 recording of the opera, he recorded under Karajan for DG, was a majestic Macbeth for Decca, as well as featuring on several Cetra recordings. His voice hasn't the raw edge of Gobbi's, and his well-tuned Don is lovely to listen to, but a bit too nice! His servant Leporello, is Italo Tajo, another Italian with a considerable international career, his bass voice, and use of his native language, make the servant a little too strong for his master. The best singing, and characterisation, comes from Cesare Valletti as Ottavio, (he gets both his arias). In no way a wimp, I suspect this Ottavio would soon have a married Donna Anna singing to his well-tuned and mellifluous commands.

There are no real weak links in the rest of the cast. The worst that can be said is that the Zerlina is a little fluttery and the Elvira sounds shrill at times, or is it the way the voice catches the microphone? To me, the

great strength of this worthwhile re-issue, and which has given me particular pleasure, is hearing native Italians 'playing' their language, as they sing and interact, and with exemplary diction too.

The conductor, Max Rudolf, keeps up a lively, at times hectic, pace. The mono recording is clear with the voices well forward. The booklet has a full libretto but no translation. This set may have been long forgotten but it has been a pleasure to listen to, and particularly at bargain price, is worth adding to one's collection.

Robert J Farr

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