Mozart
1132-34


Mozart Don Giovanni
Tito Gobbi, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Leuba Welitsch. Anton Dermota, Erich Kunz, Josef Greindl, Irmgard Seefried, Alfred Poell
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - 1950 (Salzburg)
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Well, I will come right out and say that I think this is the greatest interpretation of Don Giovanni that I have ever heard. Many who prefer Furtwängler's vision of this work above all others, prefer the version with Siepi from 1953 or 1954 to this one with Gobbi. I disagree. I prefer Gobbi for his more defiant tone, especially in the climactic scene, where Siepi sounds scared at times. Siepi can sound more the seducer, but I think that he can sound too manipulative a seducer at times, while Gobbi seems so "in love" that it would be difficult for any woman to see through him.

But there are other wonderful singers in this Don Giovanni. The most striking may be Ljuba Welitsch's Donna Anna, who, for once, doesn't sound dominating and vengeful, but genuinely hurt by her father's death. She projects a heroic figure that is quite unique. The duo with Dermota's Don Ottavio near the beginning, under Furtw?ngler's masterful conducting, was a revelation when I first heard this recording many, many years ago.

In addition, I prefer Kunz's Leporello to Edelmann's because it is less buffo. Then there are Schwarzkopf's dramatic Donna Elivira and Seefried's smooth Zerlina. I also have to mention Josef Greindl's Commendatore. His appearance in the climax is hair-raising. All that experience singing Wagnerian roles is a great preparation for this moment.

Finally, there is Furtwängler. I have heard people criticise this performance because it is too serious: not enough humour. It is true that most other Don Giovanni's have more humour, which often turns too buffo. However, I believe that it is precisely this attitude that makes it possible to have a climax such as this one. You can't have everything in life. One must chose, and I chose this climax. Don Giovanni becomes a mythological hero here. Some may object to this on moral grounds. But all classical heroes are fundamentally defiant figures. Greek heroes are always fighting with the gods, and Don Giovanni's refusal to repent elevates him to this level.