Masterpiece of a masterpiece
Robert S. Fox | 05/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A perfect visual companion to the capital Guilini EMI recording. First-rate performances all around, singing and acting, staging and directing; not a sour note in the piece. I generally prefer filmed performances before live audiences but this production has the feel of a live performance (and not the feel of those Hollywood productions--"Carmen," "Traviata"). I hadn't heard of Petri, but he plays the title role with power, guile and charm. His paean to "liberta" is convincing. Bruscantini is brilliant as Leporello (I didn't think Taddei could be rivalled). Gencer and Stich-Randall play Elvira and Anna with dignity. As in the Guilini EMI recording, Alva is masterful in his two difficult Ottavio arias and Sciuti is utterly enchanting in her Zerlina arias. Cesari plays the cuckolded Masetto with dignity.
Molinari-Pradelli conducts at a proper pace. Actually, the performance sounds as clear as a CD. I didn't notice any cuts. The only drawback--not too annoying--might be the synchronization between voice and lips in some moments, but this film was made in 1960."
Great music, dated production
B. Farconi | Rockville, MD | 11/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The singing is exceptional, Alva, Bruscantini and Gencer really shine in their roles. Unfortunately, many scenes show a big problem this film has, that is poor coordination between the lips and the voice, which I found really annoying, and acting which seemed stilted. I think any of these singers would be great on stage, but I think the filming and trying to keep up with the soundtrack saps them of energy. Also, the costumes are really bad, they look very old TV style. This is a black and white production, which could look good with stylish costumes, but it also detracts here.
If you would like to hear this great historic performance of Don Giovanni, you may want to get the audio version, I don't think this video adds any value to it."
A VERY GOOD BUT DATED PRODUCTION & CAST
R. Olsavicky | Butler, Pa. USA | 01/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"To be blunt this is a safe but far from brilliant performance. The Black and White film shows it age. Even the Sonics show there age. There are many times when the balance is off; and I specifically mean the singers totally drown out the magnificent orchestrations. The singers all make lovely sounds; but, that is one of the problems. They are not vocally or dramatically into their roles with one or two exceptions. The first being Mario Petri. He is always dramatically alert and acts and sings with much beauty and nuance. He is one of those GREAT DONS. Luigi Alva is also a vocal asset and presence. I even like Graziella Scuitti's Zerlina and I have often in the past found her voice too small and fluttery. She sounds, looks and acts wonderful. Leporello and Masetto are also better than just fine. Well this leaves the two ladies. Both Teresa Stich-Randall and Leyla Gencer sing beautifully; but that's just it. Neither is dramatically involved. They just sing and sing wonderfully. There is no fire or anger in their vocal makeup in these performances. "Non Mi Dir" is all sung in a lovely modulated tone and there is no variance of that lovely tone. I must admit I have been spoiled by two or three fantastic performances of this GREAT MOZART OPERA.
One being Leontyne Price at the MET. She went through every dynamic possible and every emotion possible and unleashed gigantic waves of emotion and gorgeous sound. Then after convincing us she was almost raped she lets out a cry for vengeance for her father's murder at frightening masses of furious sound; yet still rich and focused. She then proceeded to float one beautiful lyric phrase after another for the remainder of the evening! However' before that think of Niagara Falls at full flood. I love Stich-Randall's sound but she is too monochromatic for Donna Anna. I'm a new fan of Leyla Gencer. I generally find her very dramatically involved. I find her Donna Elvira too subdued. She is just too pale a presence when compared to Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. I think I blame this all on the stage director; both, for her and Stich-Randall. The conducting is good but not of the highest inspiration. Again, SAFE! I'll watch again; but, not often."
Valuable historic performance of Mozart's greatest work.
Abel | Hong Kong | 07/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"That Don Giovanni is Mozart's greatest work has not been disputed. In fact, some even claim that this is the greatest opera ever composed.
This great work has been widely performed and prolificly documented either in sound or in sound and visual. I personally own more than half a dozen DVDs and a dozen of sound recordings of this opera.
This 1960 film conducted by Molinari-Pradelli boosts of a well-nigh perfect cast: Mario Petri's Don is in every bit as convincing as Eberhard Waechter in the Giulini recording - dark, suave, luminous and villainly all in one. Perhaps the only one to compare visually as well as vocally with Petri is Cesare Siepi. Sesto Bruscantini protrayed the most 'buffo' Leporello. His vocal as well as acting skills are both of the highest order, and really shines in this role. Of the male cast, another truly outstanding performance comes in Luigi Alva's unlovely Ottavio. Unlovely the character might be, Alva put up a truly daunting show in Ottavio's fiendishly difficult arias. Cesari's Massetto is fuly convincing, if not outright brilliant.
One of the most difficult aspect in staging Don Giovanni is to line up three top sopranos. Well, here we have here, three unimpeachably capable sopranos to grace Mozart's score: Teresa Stich-Randall, the American 'Joan Sutherland', delivering a beautiful rendition of Donna Anna and putting up a truly noble front dramatically. She is flanked by Leyla Gencer, another incomparable Donna Elvira in the same ranking as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Lisa Della Casa. The Zerlina is the Giulini choice Graziella Scuitii, who at 1960 was in top charm and vocal capability. Her petty stature and silvery soprano really could not have been bettered in any choice for Zerlina.
The picture and sound quality, however, are both historical, and if you are not mindful of these, this DVD really should under no circumstances by overlooked.
It is simply impossible to line up such musical talents in one show these days!"