This acclaimed La Scala performance of "Don Giovanni" instantly took its place among the most important Mozart productions. Thomas Allen, hailed as one of the best British baritones ever, gives an engaging and seductive pe... more »rformance as the famous lover. Under the baton of Riccardo Muti, this La Scala production highlights all of the tragic grandeur of this masterpiece without sacrificing its lighthearted moments. Director Giorgio Strehler's staging has been lauded for its subtle psychological treatment of the characters.« less
This dvd is fine. I disagree with the other reviewers.
gioacchino | Farmington, CT USA | 07/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have been listening to opera for my entire and in having listened to over 500 different recordings of opera on video and countless 100's of cd's, I have experienced all the different types of weakness and greatness that make recordings what they are. There is the infamous background noise that drives you crazy, the poor balance of sound between the instruments, voices and even the weak chorus microphoning that makes it impossible to hear parts. Sometimes even poor staging or simply poor casting for different roles is the culprit for a poor opera recording. I had never heard the La Scala recording of Don Giovanni and guided only by the reviews of DVD on Amazon.com and several otherreviews from several opera magazines, I almost didn't buy this DVD because everyone seems to like to put down this recording. Although I agree with the opinions of some reviewers that certain La Scala DVD recordings sound and look like VHS recordings simply "passed on to DVD," (i.e., Cosi Fan Tutti, don't buy it! ) I did not have that feeling with this recording. Riccardo Muti conducts with reasonable and controlled flair and tempo, the singing is for the most part strong except in the part of Leoporello in which he has somewhat of a tendency to fall off tempo, the musical parts are fairly easy to differentiate in the orchestra, the costumes and sets are pretty, and the interpretion of the libretto is a fabulous translation. Yes, I would not give this recording 5 stars or say that it is the favorite of my recordings of opera, but as Don Giovanni is probably (in my opinion) one of the greatest 3 operas to ever be written, it is a shame for people interested in opera and classical music to not accquaint themselves with its beautiful music and plot before seeing it live in the opera house. This recording is the only good production of the opera out there. There are two other recordings and if you think that this one isn't your cup of tea, I promise you that you will hate the other two recordings. It is impossible to even differentiate parts in them. Even for fanatics of opera like me who rip their hair out when there is the slighest background noise or difficulty in differentiating parts in the recording, I think that this is a reasonably good production with good sound and video quality that will give you great listening value. Buy it and enjoy. The sound quality is great, I promise. If the subtle psychological treatment of the staging and acting doesn't do it for you, this recording sounds so good that you can even turn off the picture and enjoy yourself (Although I believe that the video heightens the enjoyment of the music). If you want a great audio recording of Don Giovanni, I recommend the Claudio Abbado recording with Bryn Terfel for which I have also written a review. Happy Listening!"
Dreadful production values
gioacchino | 08/26/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a poor use of the DVD format - obviously just a copy from a video version. There are no DVD features, aside from chapter search. The production values are just awful - grainy, fuzzy, dark."
Fine production of fabulous opera
gioacchino | 12/17/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This La Scala production of one of the greatest operas ever written is a delight to watch. The cast is excellent with fine voices and some pretty impressive acting for opera singers. If you can draw your attention away from the marvelous singing, keep an eye on the interactions of the singers. The staging is thoughtfully done. The setting is dark but elegant in keeping with the content of the opera and creates an appropriate period mood. The camera work is commendable -- carefully zooming in when needed, giving ensemble views as appropriate and occasionally showing the orchestra director superimposed on the picture. While there aren't many frills on the DVD, the very fact of scene searches allows you to go quickly to your favorite arias and hear them again and again. Mozart's music is easily accessible to a beginning opera listener and continues to delight an experienced listener. If you have any interest in opera, I would recommend this dvd."
An exciting opera and well worth watching!
Sophia | Moscow, Russia | 08/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here are my reasons: 1. The delightful staging by Giorgio Strehler - a subtle and elegant setting for the precious jewel of Mozart's opera! Every little detail matters: dry leaves flutter with fear and fury when Don Giovanni escapes from Donna Anna's house; "fleur d'orange" removed from Zerlina's head by amorous Don Giovanni and flowers thrown down by Masetto silently witness the passionate conversation between Don Giovanni, Don Ottavio, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira till finally are picked up by Leporello and Don Giovanni to remind them of the unhappy wedding celebration; Don Giovanni turns his would-be handshake with Leporello into a vulgar bribe to let the servant know his place... The "catalogue scene" (Leporello, Donna Elvira), the opening scene of the 2nd Act (Don Giovanni, Leporello), the "dinner scene" at the end of the 2nd Act (Don Giovanni, Leporello, Donna Elvira) are simply masterpieces! ...and not the only ones in this opera! 1. Acting/PerformanceCertainly in an opera it is the quality of the music and singers' voices that matters. But the opera should not only be sung but performed! I mean the singers' performance starting with the intonation to the gestures and movement. Well, in this production you have the advantage of seeing all possible operatic performance styles... ;-) "*" - The singer goes to the middle of the stage and delivers his aria, his only concern being to start and stop singing with the music (F. Araiza as Don Ottavio). The singer feels the character's emotions. Her severe sufferings make the spectators suffer too till they start longing for someone to stop the poor singer's torments! (E. Gruberova as Donna Anna) I'm sorry to write this because they both have beautiful voices but poor performance ruins the effect! Try closing your eyes when they start singing! ;-} "**" - N. de Carolis as Masetto and S. Koptchak as the Commendatore - adequate performance. "***" - A. Murray as Donna Elvira - there are some obvious faults in her acting, but despite of it her performance seemed very sincere to me. S. Mentzer as Zerlina - charming!!! "*****" - T. Allen as Don Giovanni and C. Desderi as Leporello - there's actually so much to say about them that I think I shouldn't say anything... :) Gorgeous!! Every intonation, every turn of the head and every step shows their characters' personality and emotions. They are not Mr. Allen and Mr. Desderi singing arias: It is Don Giovanni, a Spanish nobleman, and Leporello, his servant, flirting with women, fooling about, plotting intrigues, enjoying life's pleasures and fearing the deadly handshake of the Commendatore... An exciting portrayal of the love-hate relationship between the master and the servant and on the whole - a brilliant performance rarely to be seen in an opera! 3. Last but not least: the excellent "screen version" of the opera. I've seen several recorded operas and dramatic performances - most of them were impossibly tedious (being at the same time tremendous success at the theater). It seems that some very essential part of the theatre magic is lost when the opera/play/ballet is transferred to the video tape or DVD. Not in this case! C. Battistoni and his team did a creative and very professional job - the magic of Mozart's music (marvelously conducted by R. Muti) shines in all its glory!Heavenly music + wonderful voices + beautiful staging + great performance = well deserved 5 stars!!!"
Mutti's 'Don Giovanni'
Louis A Seward | Chambersburg, PA United States | 05/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mozart's operas have never been the easiest to set, and this production's director does little to alleviate that stigma. The sets are austere and repetitive, the costume design is good but hackneyed by overuse, and the lighting often obscures the more delicate details of the staging. But, if the backdrop to the music is slightly disappointing, the music itself is anything but. Mutti leads a roaring interpretation that lets down neither his lightning fast tempo nor the jubilent spirit at the heart of Mozart's music.The casting is superb! From Zerlina (Metzner), meek and innocent (even through her final curtain call) to Leoporello (Desderi) whose antics on the stage make us fall in love with his character to Thomas Allen's Don Giovanni who is the perfect blend of regality and wickedness. All around this is the best recording of Don Giovanni available on DVD, and one those eager to aquire Mozart's grand masterpiece in this format first need look in to."