17 July 2011 | TheLittleSongbird
Very effective live performance
Live from the Salzburg Festival, this is a very effective Don Giovanni. It has the feeling of a live performance, with the use of opening/slamming doors, screaming, walking out and what not, making it feel fresh and authentic to this day even though it is on audio recording. The orchestra sound wonderful, literally transferring us into this dark and turbulent world from the first note of the overture, and Karl Bohm apart from one or two recitative-like sections that feel a tad stodgy brings a precision, excitement and Germanic flavour to the performance.
The story is still as compelling as ever and Don Giovanni still lives long into the memory. And where would we be without the sublime and immortal music of Mozart, the Commendatore scene especially is one of my favourite scenes in any opera.
The performances are excellent. Sherrill Milnes isn't my initial idea of Don Giovanni(Siepi, Pinza and Raimondi are still my favourites in the role), but he does do a great job. He is in great voice, and the arrogance and handsome swagger is still there. He is a little disappointing though in the Champagne aria, mostly it is sung very well and musically with some fine vitality, but occasionally it feels over-tensed and lacking in agility. I partly blame the speed, even for that aria, it was rather slow. His La Ci Darem La Mano, Gia La Mensa and the Commendatore scene are however wonderful, and he shows real defiance in a lot of scenes.
Anna Tomowa-Sintow is a beautifully sung Donna Anna, and one that is passionate and urgent, something I don't always find with some Donna Annas. Teresa Zylis-Gara is a dark and lush Elvira, and it is also a performance that has spite yet it has a bit of sexiness about it. And I can't tell you how enchanting Edith Mathis is as Zerlina, her singing La Ci Darem La Mano makes my heart melt.
Peter Schreier really comes alive in the role of Ottavio, it is much better than the 1967 recording where he sings well but is inconsistent. John Macurdy is a very effective Commendatore, perhaps not the most powerful, but the singing is still riveting. Other than Milnes and Mathis my favourite performance of this live performance of Don Giovanni is the Leporello, Walter Berry. He is charismatic and sparkles vocally, of all the Leporellos Berry is perhaps my favourite of them all.
All in all, very effective and enjoyable live performance of a terrific opera. 8/10 Bethany Cox