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Recordings

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni (Highlights)
24 Jul 2006

MOZART: Don Giovanni (Highlights)

Naxos reinforces its status as the classical recording world's bargain leader by releasing a single CD highlights disc from its complete Don Giovanni, recorded in 2000 and originally released in 2001.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni (Highlights)

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.)

Naxos 8.557893 [CD]

$7.99  Click to buy

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 Halász..

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 Commendatore.

Recently the Calixto Bieito Don Giovanni came out on DVD, with Regina Schörg 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

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