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Mozart - Don Giovanni / Gilfry, Orgonasova, Margiono, James, Prégardien, D'Arcangelo, Gardiner Import
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Top Customer Reviews
For me, the star of this performance is conductor John Eliot Gardiner. Every time I hear one of his recordings I'm more convinced that he's one of the very best living conductors, and it shows in this fiercely dramatic Don. If you're used to another recording, like those of Giulini or Davis, you might find the overture and final scene to be breathlessly fast, but personally I find either option perfectly correct. But in any case don't assume that this recording is rushed simply because it is a period-instrument version. All of Gardiner's tempi probably do at least lean toward the quick side, but almost nothing here strikes me as excessive or idiosyncratic. The tempi here virtually always add to the effectiveness of the drama. Don Giovanni is one of the most brilliantly vigorous and enthusiastic operas ever written, and Gardiner's incisive conducting of the English Baroque Soloists, the orchestra he founded and clearly has a remarkable rapport with, brilliantly brings that out. I actually recommend heading to the final scene first of all--it really is a shocking, incredibly effective denouement, and in my opinion this version does it justice more than any other.
None of the singers stand out to me quite as much as Gardiner and his fantastic English Baroque Soloists, but this is not so much their inadequacy as the conductor's uniqueness and verve. In fact, they're all quite good and very equipped to cope with Mozartian challenges.Read more ›
I'm frankly tired of all the debates about "original" music and whether the orchestra has been slimmed down enough, too much, etc. From the debates, one would think that Gardiner's orchestra consists of one violin and a harpsichord, or maybe even just a kazoo. If that's your concern, forget it - the orchestra, however big or little it may be, is just right. His tempi are as well, so I'm equally fed up with the discussions of whether he plays this or that aria too quickly; in no case are his tempi breakneck. And he balances the disparate components of this opera.
And the singing is divine. Every single cast member is just right, and some are perfectly so - most notably the superb Luba Orgonosova. I was disappointed in her solo album - her singing is lovely but every piece sounds the same - but she shines under Gardiner and is a perfect Donna Anna. There have been complaints about Rodney Gilfry - his voice lies too high, he's not smarmy enough, blah blah blah. Is he the perfect Don? Probably not, but he's more than good enough.
I'm not going to pitch my second favorite recording - the recent one conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin; among other things, the men on that recording are magnificent (other than the Commendatore, who's weak) even if the female roles aren't quite as good. However, I suspect this is the recording I'm likely to keep coming back to.
I've always found the Act 1 exchange between Donna Anna and Don Ottavio to be very moving. Pregardien's Don Ottavio is immediately compelling. All the warmth required to tell her that she has a father and lover in him, when appealing to her passions after her father's death. Yet, without ringing bravado, he is a firm, committed avenger ("Lo giuro!"). His "Dalla sua pace" is smooth, elegant and sublime.
I interject to say that this is the best recording that I've heard to date. I'm not going to dare say that this exceeds the Giulini but I do prefer it. Why? The singing is excellent, the conducting is superb and I've not encountered this much drama in ANY of the other readings I've heard! Just in case you miss it, let me inform you- this is a live recording (hence the superlative sense of drama). The audience is more than well-behaved...listen hard and maybe you'll hear a muffled cough or two but otherwise, not a peep.
Admittedly, I thought Raimondi was great but Gilfry is BRILLIANT! Consumed by his own virility and confidence, this Don Giovanni is the most believable. His laughter, sneers, jeers, passions...poignant delivery.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When the editorial commentator on Amazon UK, in his spruiking of this production of Don Giovanni, lauds the conductor as "the ever fastidious and scholarly John Eliot... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon
To be honest, this was not love at first listen... The overture and dinner scene seemed to be much too fast. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Music Snob
In my opinion this was Mozart's greatest opera and therefore in my opinion making the greatest opera ever written. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Michael P. McParland
This is a terrific Don, except that Gilfry, while good doesn't dominate the opera like a Don should. The Masseto has more personality than Gilfrey as the Don.Too bad. Read morePublished on February 25, 2012 by Milan Simich
John Eliot Gardiner was born under th luckiest star imaginable, given that his not exactly stellar talent has been enough to earn lavish over-praise for his entire career. Read morePublished on November 11, 2008 by Santa Fe Listener
I join the praise bestowed on Gardiner and the cast by others already and I add a couple of points. First, Gilfry is perfectly cast, and I mean perfectly. Read morePublished on November 21, 2007 by MK
John Elliot Gardiner's way with most music (including Mozart) is to strip almost all color from the orchestra and (especially) from the singers in an amateurish attempt at being... Read morePublished on February 13, 2006 by Pococat
Taking a chance, I bought this CD set with little knowledge of opera and only having heard Act II, Scene XV of Don Giovanni from another CD set. Read morePublished on September 5, 2005 by Ab H. Gamble