MOZART: Don Giovanni (Highlights)

Now for a few dollars, buyers can acquire all
the “hits” from both Prague and Vienna versions of Mozart’s immortal score,
performed by a fine cast of contemporary singers and the Nicolaus Esterhazy
Sinfonia, led by Michael Hal·sz..

Highlights discs probably have two markets – for neophytes who want to “dip
their toes” into a work, and for the collector who has a complete set (or 2,
3, 4….) but would like to hear certain singers in certain roles. This disc
should please both groups. For “toe-dippers,” Naxos provides, in its slim
booklet, a pithy note on the opera’s composition and a scene by scene
breakdown of the libretto, giving the context for each number. The complete
libretto is also available online. With short bios of all the cast members
included, Naxos really makes good use of limited space.

And the collector gets to hear some good voices. Bo Skovhus has settled into
a successful career, possibly without quite reaching the star status he
seemed aimed at a few years. His Don has a generic feel, in terms of
characterization, but his is a handsome voice and he meets the role’s
requirements easily. The Don’s servant Leporello gets an energetic
run-through by Renato Girolami, and Boaz Daniel gives us a hearty Masetto
without too much overplay of his “hickness.”

At the far ends of the male vocal spectrum, Torsten Kerl’s darker, more
forceful Don Ottavio makes for an interesting contrast with the usual lighter
tenor who takes on the role, and Janusz Monarcha thunders effectively as the

Recently the Calixto Bieito Don Giovanni
came out on DVD, with Regina Schˆrg as Donna Anna; she takes on Donna
Elvira here and the role seems a better fit. Her voice has an edge to it
appropriate for the more troubled character. Adrianne Pieczonka sings Donna
Anna with rich, substantial tone. Ildiko Raimondi at first strikes the ear as
a little mature-sounding for Zerlina, but she manages to do well with her big
solo, “Batti batti.”

All in all, a well-sung, incisively played performance such as this one
serves as more evidence that the classical recording industry can still make
a profit on reasonably priced, quality product. Imagine that.

Chris Mullins
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy

image_description=Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni (Highlights)
product_title=Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni (Highlights)
product_by=Boaz Daniel, Renato Girolami, Torsten Kerl, Janusz Monarcha, Adrianne Pieczonka, Ildiko Raimondi, Ildiko, Regina Schorg, Bo Skovhus, Hungarian Radio Chorus, Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Michael Halasz (cond.)
product_id=Naxos 8.557893 [CD]