MOZART: Don Giovanni (highlights) (Adrianne Pieczonka/ Bo Skovhus/ Boaz Daniel/ Hungarian Radio Choir/ Ildiko Raimondi/ Janusz Monarcha/ Michael Halasz/ Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia/ Regina Schorg/ Renato Girolami/ Torsten Kerl) (Naxos: 8.557893)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Il dissoluto punito ossia Don Giovanni (Highlights)
Dramma giocoso in 2 Acts
Text by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Don Giovanni, an extremely licentious young gentleman
- Bo SkovhusIl Commendatore
- Janusz MonarchaDonna Anna, his daughter, betrothed to Don Ottavio
- Adrianne PieczonkaDon Ottavio
- Torsten KerlDonna Elvira, lady of Burgos, deserted by Don Giovanni
- Regina SchorgLeporello, servant of Don Giovanni
- Renato GirolamiMasetto, lover of Zerlina
- Boaz DanielZerlina, a peasant girl
- Ildiko RaimondiChorus: Peasants, Servants, Subterranean Chorus, Musicians
The Scene is set in a City in SpainHungarian Radio Chorus (Chorus Master: Kalman Strausz)
David Aronson (harpsichord), Gyorgy ?ëder (cello)
Nicolaus Estherhazy Sinfonia
Michael Halasz ------ In Vienna during the last ten years of his life Mozart was atlast able to turn his fuller attention to the composition of opera, a form forwhich his native Salzburg had offered less opportunity. In 1786 he had wonsuccess with Le nozze di Figaro
, a collaboration with the Italian librettistLorenzo Da Ponte. In Prague the acclaim for the opera had been even greater andMozart and Da Ponte had been commissioned to provide a new opera for thefollowing winter season. Da Ponte found himself busy with three libretti at thesame time. For Martin y Soler he was busy with L'arbore di Diana
(TheTree of Diana), an original work, for Antonio Salieri he was making an Italianadaptation of Tarare
, based on Beaumarchais, which became Axus, r?¿ d'Ormus
,and for Mozart Don Giovanni
. As Da Ponte alleged to the Emperor, in hisown account of the matter, he would work in the morning for Martin, in thespirit of Petrarch, in the evening for Salieri, as Tasso, and at night, imagininghe was reading Dante's Inferno
, for Mozart. Whatever the truth of this,he had an earlier pattern on which to model Don Giovanni
, a recenttreatment of the subject that had been staged in Venice, and the story of DonGiovanni and the Stone Guest was, in any case, well known, from the play on thesubject by the Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molina in the early 17th century.
In Prague in October Mozart had allowed ten days forrehearsals of the opera. Not surprisingly this proved far too optimistic andthe work was finally staged in Prague two weeks later, on 29 October 1787, toolate for the celebration of the marriage of Archduchess Maria Theresia andPrince Clemens of Saxony for which the commission had been intended. DonGiovanni
, however, won immediate success in Prague and a performance wascommanded in Vienna for the following May. Here opinions were divided, withsome, including the Emperor in one recorded comment, judging the musicunsuitable for the voices or too difficult to sing. Da Ponte reported a moreconsidered opinion. The Emperor had told him that he had found the workparticularly fine but not perhaps to the taste of the Viennese, while Mozarthimself had been content to allow time to do its work and history to give thefinal verdict on a work of the value of which he had no doubt. The opera DonGiovanni
is unusual in the fact that two authentic versions exist, both byDa Ponte and Mozart, the Prague version of the first performance and the versionadapted for Vienna. For the latter Mozart replaced the tenor aria 'Il miotesoro'
with 'Dalla sua pace', better suited to the abilities ofFrancesco Morella, who took the part of Don Ottavio. For Donna Elvira, sung in Vienna by Salieri's protegee Caterina Cavalieri, a scena was added. Performance customshave varied over the years, with some unhappy attempts to combine the two versions.
The present recording offers both of Don Ottavio's arias and Donna Elvira's 'Inquali eccessi'.
[Track 1] The Overture, in an ominous D minor, suggests somethingof the ghostly conclusion of the opera in its introductory bars, a mood soondispelled with the start of the D major Allegro
 It is night. In a garden in Seville Don Giovanni's servantLeporello is walking up and down in front of the house of Donna Anna. He complainsof his life, with too little food and sleep and too much work, when he would liketo be a gentleman, not keeping guard while his master enjoys an assignation.
Voices are heard and he hides. Donna Anna comes out, holding Don Giovanni by thearm, while he tries to hide himself. She will not release him, while he refusesto let her see who he is and does his best to stop her cries, as Leporellocomments on the scene. As her father comes out, Donna Anna releases DonGiovanni and runs into the house. The Commendatore challenges the Don, whorefuses at first to fight him, but gives way. They fight and the old man falls,mortally wounded and calling for help.
Don Giovanni calls for Leporello, who asks him who is dead,Don Giovanni or the old man, and when he understands what has happenedcongratulates his master on seducing the daughter and killing the father. Don Giovannithreatens to beat him and Leporello is silent, as they go out together.
Lights in the house are lit and Donna Anna, Don Ottavio andservants come out, ready to help the Commendatore, Don Ottavio with sworddrawn. Donna Anna sees her father's body and is horrified, lamenting his death,while Don Ottavio tries to console her.
 Donna Anna expresses her despair, while Don Ottavio, herlover, offers what comfort he can. They both swear revenge on the unknownmurderer.
Don Giovanni and Leporello are in a nearby street and thelatter has something to say, if only Don Giovanni will not be angry with him.
Don Giovanni promises to keep his temper, but is furious when Leporello bellowsin his ear that his master is leading the life of a rogue. Calming down again,he tells his servant that he has another conquest to pursue, a woman he has met,and now he senses the scent of a woman, and they withdraw a little.
 Donna Elvira, who has been jilted by Don Giovanni, complainsof her treatment, as she seeks her former lover. Don Giovanni, at first notrecognising her, comments, aside, on her plight and suggests bringing her someconsolation, a plan that draws a cynical response from Leporello.
Eventually Don Giovanni steps forward and he and DonnaElvira recognise each other; he is the one who has deceived her, and sheupbraids him, while he seeks to calm her and leaves Leporello to explain whathas happened, as he makes his escape.
 Leporello, in his catalogue aria, lists, by way of consolation,Don Giovanni's many conquests, 640 women in Italy, 231 in Germany, a hundred in France, 91 in Turkey and in Spain now 1003, women of all classes, ages anddegrees of beauty.
Donna Elvira vows revenge, furious at this revelation ofinfidelity.
 In the country villagers have gathered to celebrate themarriage of Zerlina and Masetto. Zerlina points out that youth is the time forlove and Masetto that marriage is the answer.
They are joined by Don Giovanni and Leporello. Don Giovannioffers Zerlina and Masetto his friendly protection and invites the gathering tohis castle, telling Leporello to keep Masetto occupied, while he looks after Zerlina.
He threatens Masetto, who has doubts about this.
 Masetto, in an aria, declares that he has understood whatis going on, thanking Don Giovanni and, in an aside, rebuking Zerlina for herready compliance with