CLASSIC RECORDINGS FROM ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREAT OPERA HOUSES
Riccardo Muti conducts a sublime cast, headed by Thomas Allen in the title role of the great seducer, in the 1987 La Scala recording of Mozart and Da Ponte’s tale of lust and subversion.
Sung in Italian with English subtitles.
Thomas Allen, Sergej Koptchak, Edita Gruberova, Francisco Araiza, Ann Murray, Claudio Desderi, Natale de Carolis
Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro alla Scala / Riccardo Muti
Stage Director Giorgio Strehler
'This lavish 1987 production has a mouth-watering cast and by and large they deliver. Tom Allen was probably the ultimate Don both vocally and dramatically and Claudio Desderi is a near-perfect Leporello – his diction is second to none. Edita Gruberova sings Donna Anna as if she were pedalling downhill and Francisco Araiza is a suitably feeble Don Ottavio. Ann Murray, however, is miscast as Donna Elvira and Susanne Mentzer sounds mature as Zerlina – her Masetto is a very fresh-faced Natale De Carolis. Ultimately the show belongs to Riccardo Muti – he is masterful Muti, mellifluous Muti, meraviglioso Muti...'
‘This performance, from La Scala’s 1987 opening production, was almost the first operatic DVD ever to appear – in America only, so it’s good to see it in Britain at last and at mid-price. It immediately demonstrated the new format’s superiority over videotape, both in fitting this longish opera onto a single disc, and by making it visable again. Director Giorgio Strehler has a habit of showing his characters half-silhouetted against glowing skies. On this DVD mastering, …the shadows clear to reveal an attractive-looking production, very traditional but lively and detailed in cloak swirling commedia dell’arte style, in Mozart-era costume and massive neo-Classical sets.
Out of the old school, is Muti’s conducting, …reasonably brisk and dramatically effective. As such, though it’s not my favourite reading, I very much enjoyed it.
We’re lucky to have Sir Thomas Allen’s Don, though a decade after his Glyndebourne triumph in the role. His acting is more youthful and psychotically magnetic than in James Conlon’s Cologne recording. ‘La ci darem la mano’…an unsettling mix of seduction and stalking.
Francisco Araiza is an ardently Italianate Ortavio. Ann Murray is…Donna Elvira, imperious and touching. Suzanne Mentzer’s sparkling but vulnerable Zerlina, convincing in her rapport with Natale de Carolis’s light-voiced…Mavetto. The chorus work a lot harder than they sometimes do at La Scala, to good effect.
All told, this staging is much richer than Michael Hampe’s worthy but rather drab incarnations for Karajan and Conlon. At mid-price this is very appealing.’
'Giorgio Strehler’s production of Don Giovanni, set in atmospherically lit Palladian sets and looking like 18th-century Italian paintings, has at its centre a highly charged performance by Thomas Allen, demonstrating just why he became one of the role’s leading exponents. The relationship between him and Leporello (Claudio Desderi) has an edge sometimes missing in other productions. There are fine performances from Edita Gruberova and Ann Murray. Muti lovingly conducts a performance well worth getting.'
‘Thomas Allen’s Giovanni (in splendidly aristocratic form) and Claudio Desderi’s Leporello enact a limitlessly fascinating central relationship, and Susanne Mentzer is a delicious Zerlina.’
BBC Music Magazine
‘Ann Murray is moving as Elvira and gives a memorable acting performance, rising above the de luxe operatic routine.’
The Sunday Times
Awards & Accolades:
Diapason d’Or (December 2004)
CAT NO: OA LS3001 D
FORMAT: All Formats
REGIONS: All Regions
PICTURE FORMAT: 4:3
LENGTH: 179 MINS
SOUND: DOLBY STEREO
NO OF DISCS: 1