Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


DVD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

alternatively
Crotchet

 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Don Giovanni - Dramma giocoso in two acts (1787)
Don Giovanni … Simon Keenlyside (baritone)
Il Commendatore … Alfred Muff (bass)
Donna Anna … Eva Mei (soprano)
Don Ottavio … Piotr Beczala (tenor)
Donna Elvira … Malin Hartelius (soprano)
Leporello … Anton Scharinger (baritone)
Masetto … Reinhard Mayr (bass)
Zerlina … Martina Janková (soprano)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House/Franz Welser-Möst
rec. live 14, 16, 18 May 2006, Zurich Opera House.
Producer: Sven-Eric Bechtolf
Set: Rolf Glittenberg
Costume: Marianne Glittenberg
Lighting: Jürgen Hoffman
Choreography: Stefano Gianetti
TV and video director: Felix Breisach
Region-free NTSC-DVD, designed for playback on all NTSC and modern PAL compatible systems worldwide; Colour; NTSC System 16:9; Disc Format: 2 x DVD – 9; Audio Content: LPCM Stereo – Dolby 5.1- Digital surround - DTS 5.1 Surround; Subtitles: English; Deutsch; Français; Español; Italiano.
EMI CLASSICS DVB5009709 [2 DVDs: 185:00]
Experience Classicsonline


It would be fun to write a dissertation about this production rather than a review, but a flavour is required not a line-by-line or note-by-note analysis. So let us start with where we are and when. Depending on which source you use, Mozart set the opera in a Spanish town (Seville) in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. Here, we are in Western Europe with no more precision than that. We are firmly in the twentieth century: 1920–1930s Art Deco with the Charleston or post-the second war with rock and roll, twist and dance suggestions of Zorba the Greek and West Side Story. Yes, dear reader, I am writing about a production of a Mozart opera – remember the words ‘fun’ and ‘dissertation’ and that is not an oxymoron.
 
The sets - what sets? - require some knowledge of the opera and a strong imagination: wicker chairs, airport upholstered benches, a small moveable cocktail bar (the last a risible arbour for Masetto/Zerlina/Giovanni and later becoming Elvira’s platform for her window/balcony) and finally a small African-style portable statuette for the marble statue of the Commendatore - worse than risible. Conversely there is a very effective use of a huge rear-stage mirror reversing the early events on stage and repeating them backwards apparently ad infinitum – nothing is new; all is repeated down the generations? Very smooth curtain movements cover scene-changes, dead body removal and character separations.
 
And dancing? Yes, dancing mixed with stage movements and tableaux. For most of the time I am not sure what they add. Occasionally I am certain that they subtract: by diverting attention away from the central events; the worst their gyrations at the end of Act II, the best the West Side Story-style finger clicking gangland peasants in formation moving down stage during the Masetto/Zerlina wedding festivities.
 
Which brings us to the class problem which riddles the da Ponte/Mozart writing. Dinner-jacketed peasants - the flattening out of twentieth century society? Although the Donna Anna and Donna Elvira costumes are clearly up-market or perhaps from and earlier era – a flattening out of time? See what I mean about a dissertation?
 
Open-necked white shirt hanging outside his pinstripes – the butler of Leporello has fallen on hard times, serving a master not above some dirty street fighting to bring Leporello to heel. Indeed Keenlyside is the action-packed Giovanni exhibiting his now almost trademark strong physicality of movement: enjoying a well directed opening fight, leaping over benches or onto the ‘cocktail’ bar to direct the Masetto mob in the chase of himself. He enjoys his role and acts with wit and verve to involve his fellow characters and sometimes also the audience.
 
Watching him it is necessary to remind oneself of the first phrase of the opera’s title: Il dissoluto punito. Keenlyside dissolute? Now there’s an oxymoron. Chisel features and body strength indicative of a work-out in a gym rather than a bed or bar. Equally, there can be no doubt of the vitality of his singing. A firm focus, some delightful phrasing and a silky tone of seduction second to none, reserving for Leporello a mercurial instant change from charmer to aggressive dominance.
 
Anton Scharinger sings and acts the role of Leporello with confident ease. His gloriously resonant baritone seems to caress the words as he sings them. Strong acting is required to convince himself and us of the efficacy of the role-switch and believable fear and pride in his master’s exploits. Scharinger is so very polished that he seems to have untapped vocal and acting reserves. He almost plays with his Catalogue aria so effortless does he make it seem.
 
Eva Mei is the haughty Donna Anna: although does the farewell kiss of the opening scene suggest more the ‘hell hath no fury’ woman rather than the defiled woman? Thereafter this is the conventional Donna Anna whose early vocal lines always seem to carry an innate intemperate (even dissonant) touch. When allowed to settle she produces passion and clarity of note and word. If her Or sai, chi l’onore of Act I is good, her Non mi dir of Act II is excellent.
 
In this production she has heightened and studied indifference to her Don Ottavio who does not seem to project himself towards her. This Don Ottavio is the young Polish tenor Piotr Beczala – more Beczala in a dinner jacket than Beczala in love. However he has a strong voice with a distinctively pleasing timbre. In Dalla sua pace he demonstrates admirably his full open-throated sound; the effect of the aria being reduced by the distraction of some of the background female dancers removing outer garments and a few then grouping themselves down stage around him for the final bars. And when in close up you also have the bra of the female behind him it does nothing to enhance the aria directed to heaven to comfort his true love. In similar vein Il mio tesoro commences being sung to Elvira, Zerlina and Masetto. Then Elvira momentarily resting her head on his shoulder (dissertation: discuss and develop). The aria concludes with the female dancers who have assembled behind him carrying him aloft off the stage.
 
Malin Hortelius is Donna Elvira. It cannot be put more simply. The name is new to me and I shall internet search for her other recordings to see them and whether she really is as good in other roles. Strong acting, glorious singing and very easy on the eye. The periodic neat suggestion of character fragility contrasting the total vocal security and an apparently effortless throwing of notes at any pitch or volume.
 
Martina Janková as Zerlina has two notable arias. Here she has to sing most of the first to an empty stage thus making a bit of a nonsense of the instruction to Masetto to beat her. Whilst she takes her dress off in the second aria - relax, there are respectable undergarments appropriate to the era - she is left hidden on stage until the discovery of the Leporello/Giovanni switch during which she has to redress, unconvincing if not downright silly. She has a beguiling voice with note security and clarity. She sings the ‘peasant’ of the music with totally persuasive simplicity.
 
Here Masetto is sung by Reinhard Mayr, a part he despatches with ease. Alfred Muff’s wonderfully magisterial deep-brown bass is indeed the Commendatore of the condemnation to hell.
 
Without a weak vocal link, it is the ensembles that have enormous strength of vocal and acting skill. I particularly enjoyed the Hartelius/Mei/Beczala brief trio after they unmask (or in this case take off their ‘shades’) - gentle runs and note floating of great dignity. The finale of each Act gives a lesson in vocal combination.
 
My only musical reservation relates to some variable tempos and the occasional lack of orchestral dynamics. Although on sporadic occasions the orchestra wanted to compete with the singers Welser-Möst just manages to hold them back. Those are comparatively small points in a performance where otherwise the orchestra supports and follows the excellent vocal stage performances.
 
The two Acts conveniently fit onto a disc each. There are a good selection of tracks – but no information about them in the accompanying booklet which consists of a George Hall brief essay. Track details are in the Chapter List to be found from the opening screen but no times.
 
Know your Don Giovanni and enjoy this. If you do not know it then just lie back and enjoy it – but be prepared for some surprises when you see your first conventional production.
 
Robert McKechnie
 
see also review by Göran Forsling



 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.