Saturday, 30 August 2008

155. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Don Giovanni (1787)


Title: Don Giovanni
Performers: Eberhard Watcher, Joan Sutherland, Giuseppe Taddei
Director: Carlo Maria Giulini
Year: 1959
Length: 3 hours


This is often and widely considered the best opera of all time, and honestly it might just be. It really depends however on what you consider to be most important in opera, but on balance this is still amazing. The music is the best of any Mozart opera I have listened to, extremely effective emotionally.

The libretto might, in my opinion be slightly inferior to that of Nozze di Figaro as it is not sustained as well throughout, the beginning of the second act is not that exciting and the end after the death of Giovanni feels superfluous. The thing is the Death of Giovanni just before the end is one of the most riveting moments in any opera, the Commendatore dragging him to hell is a moment of extreme power.

The main character is a psychopathic sex-addict, rapist and murderer, which is uncommon to say the least and there is a perverse pleasure to the whole thing, he does get his comeuppance at the end, but still... Amazing stuff indeed, Mozart is just something else.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Of the many operas based on the legend of Don Juan, Don Giovanni is thought to be beyond comparison. Da Ponte's libretto was billed like many of its time as dramma giocoso: "giocoso" meaning comic, and "dramma" signifying an operatic text (an abbreviation of "dramma per musica"). Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an "opera buffa". Although often classified as comic, it is a unique blend of comic (buffa) and drama (seria). Subtitled "dramma giocoso", the opera blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote a long essay in his book Enten/Eller (Either/Or) in which he argues, quoting Charles Gounod, that Mozart's Don Giovanni is “a work without blemish, of uninterrupted perfection.” The finale, in which Don Giovanni refuses to repent, has been a captivating philosophical and artistic topic for many writers including George Bernard Shaw, who in Man and Superman parodied the opera (with explicit mention of the Mozart score for the finale scene between the Commendatore and Don Giovanni).

Thank God for the internet, and it is actually the Giulini recording so great!:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Get the performance from 1950 conducted by Furtwangler, with Tito Gobbi, Josef Greindl, Ljuba Welitsch, and Erich Kunz.

Tito Gobbi gets the scorn and the snarl just right.