This 1987 performance of Don Giovanni is director Giorgio Strehler's interpretation of this opera, which presents the characters from a psychological standpoint, has been lauded as one of the most important Mozart producti... more »ons yet. The British baritone Thomas Allen stars as the famous rapscallion. Picture Format: 4:3
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 06/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD of 'Don Giovanni' comes from 1987 at La Scala, in Giorgio Strehler's fairly mainstream production (and thank goodness for that!) with mostly top-notch singers. It has been available before on VHS and even on DVD (on a different label) but at a much higher price. And it may be my imagination - I don't have the earlier releases at hand - but it seems to me that this issue is in cleaner sound and with clearer visuals. Riccardo Muti conducts the Scala forces in an exciting but well-controlled performance. Thomas Allen is outstanding as Don Juan, oozing charm as he snakes his way into the lives of all the women within sight. Claudio Desderi makes a suitably ambivalent (and rich-voiced) Leporello, disdaining his master at the same time he hopes to join in the debauchery. Suzanne Mentzer, looking absolutely delicious, looks (and sings) a wonderfully lively but naïve Zerlina; hers is my favorite performance here. Ann Murray is a somewhat muted Donna Elvira, but that approach can work and she pulls it off. Her voice is lush and she never shrieks during the ferocious moments. Sergey Koptchak is splendid as the Commendatore, although I did wonder why at the end he was mostly heard and not seen. Francisco Araiza sings nicely but is a bit wooden as Don Ottavio. Natale de Carolis makes a handsome young Masetto, sings ardently and is possibly the most tellingly subtle actor on the stage; he and Mentzer make the most attractive Zerlina and Masetto I recall ever seeing. The only significant letdown, and one of the reasons I gave this production four stars instead of five, is the Donna Anna of Edita Gruberova. She has been noted for her silvery coloratura and her lovely tone (as in her recording of 'Rusalka,' since, of course, trumped by that of Renée Fleming) but here she sounds tired, particularly early in the opera. This improves slightly as we go along, but the voice still sounds a bit worn. Her acting, as well, is merely serviceable.Sets, costumes, direction are all a credit to their creators: Enzo Frigerio, Franca Squarciapino, and Giorgio Strehler. Lighting by Vannio Vanni is just the tiniest bit muted in this production, but it is otherwise adequate.The opera takes just one DVD. There are no extras, not surprising considering the opera itself is just shy of three hours. The only subtitles are in English; there are not even Italian subtitles, but the Italian libretto is printed in the enclosed booklet. This is a bit cumbersome if one is trying to follow the libretto closely. Further, the divisions and settings of the various scenes are not marked in the libretto - it's the sung text only. Fortunately, differing from some booklets I've seen lately, the text is printed in black against white; there seems to be a trend towards printing white text (or even gray text) again dark backgrounds, which makes reading the tiny print exceedingly difficult, at least for those of us of a certain age. I do recommend this DVD, but with the minor provisos stated above.Scott Morrison"
Zenka B. | 09/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is rather old fashioned production but I liked it very much. Thomas Allen is an excellent Don, Zerlina is just charming, one of the sweetest I have ever seen. The staging of the final Commendatore scene was little strange and confusing, but his singing was great. Special praise must be reserved for Edita Gruberova as Donna Anna, her singing is just impeccable, and Non mir dir aria is the highlight of the evening. She gets the biggest ovation at the of the show. This DVD would be a great first Don Giovanni for any opera lover, with its traditional production and excellent singing."
C. Harbison | Montague, MA United States | 06/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The production is classical and sumptuous, with wonderful silhouette effects and glistening reflective black floor. Very well sung and acted throughout; I especially liked the virile-sounding Don Ottavio of Araiza. Muti leads a dynamic, romantic rendition of the score, only slightly distracting when the camera repeatedly cuts to him during crucial arias. An altogether riveting performance."
A strong, solid production!
Trevor Rowland | UT, USA | 08/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this DVD very much! It is a wonderful production! The music is performed to perfection, and the sound quality of the DVD is very good. Allen is the perfect Don Giovanni, and the rest of the cast is great too, especially Leporello and Zerlina. I wish there was some movement from the Commendatore statue at the end, but other than that, it's an awesome version. I especially like the somewhat muted lighting, which adds to the dramatic atmosphere. Highly recommended DVD!"
Architectural splendour but what else?
L. A. Jeffery | England | 10/03/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"With copious amounts of material swirling around in this over busy production, it is hard at times to concentrate on the performances. With cloaks flourished and hats put on and taken off ad-nauseum the two main performers Allen and Desdiri occasionally suffer from shortage of breath and at times you feel like screaming "please just stand still".
Thomas Allen is a singer I greatly admire - however on this night he just doesn't seem vocally up to the challenge, his aria `Fin ch'han dal vino' Is taken so fast by Muti that he is breathless and seems unable to cope, by the end of the opera he is evidently flagging. I don't want to be too unkind as all singers have off nights and the audience at La Scala obviously loved him and who am I to argue with them. A quick mention for Francisco Ariza - a wonderful singer whose voice here sounds tired but still melodious with hints of the beauty of his vocal youth.
Of the women Edita Gruberova, as you would expect, gives the overall polished performance, her pure voice ringing out like a bell with never a hint of a screech. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Ann Murray whose top notes are squally and jarr the ear, however her lower register is still lovely and she is a very good actress, able to communicate her anguish, her aria `Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata `is very touching.
The set itself is of highly polished architectural splendour and so in keeping with the period of the opera as indeed are the costumes, not exaggerated or over sumptuous and all the better for that.
This is a fairly enjoyable evenings viewing but I was left feeling slightly cheated and wanting to strangle the stage director. "