Mozart Don Giovanni

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Don Giovanni
WORKS: Don Giovanni
PERFORMER: Ildebrando D’Archangelo (bass-baritone), Vitalij Kowaljow (bass), Diana Danrau (soprano), Rolando Villazón (tenor), Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano), Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone), Konstantin Wolff (bass-baritone), Mojca Erdmann (soprano); Vocalensemble Rastatt; Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin


This account of Mozart’s most complex comedy was taped over three concert performances in 2011, marking the first in a series of his seven mature operas to be recorded live by DG in Baden-Baden, Germany. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin presents the regular ‘hybrid’ version of the score, adding elements of the Vienna revision to the Prague original: in other words, you get the standard extra arias for Donna Elvira (‘Mi tradi’) and Don Ottavio (‘Dalla sua pace’). Joyce DiDonato despatches hers on a grand scale, her burning anger making her a constant threat to Giovanni’s hegemony. Rolando Villazón’s Ottavio is more problematic: his intelligent, focused reading does not present the wimp one sometimes encounters, but a slightly leathery quality mars the fluidity of his voice.

At the centre, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s full bass allows this Giovanni to register as a vocal heavyweight, a dominant male who’s also an expert seducer. At his side, Luca Pisaroni’s Leporello is equally vivid, offering a three-dimensional presence and masterly articulation. Like DiDonato’s Elvira, Diana Damrau’s Donna Anna regularly seizes the initiative, and there’s extraordinary power in her description of Giovanni’s attack. Neither the Masetto nor Zerlina rise to these levels, unfortunately: he lacks the detail of his colleagues, while she needs more personality.

Fortunately Nézet-Séguin supplies plenty of character, with effective tempos and dramatically conceived music-making. Helped by a historically informed virtuoso orchestra, this is definitely one of the best accounts of the opera to appear in a while.


George Hall