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Episode credited cast:
James Morris ...
Joan Sutherland ...
John Brecknock ...
Julia Varady ...
Gabriel Bacquier ...
Huguette Tourangeau ...
Allan Monk ...
John Macurdy ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard Bonynge ...
Himself - Conducted by
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
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16 March 1978 (USA)  »

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A very good Don Giovanni
28 October 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I have seen several Don Giovannis, being a huge fan of Mozart's opera. Don Giovanni is for me a masterpiece when it comes to opera. It has a compelling story, a very vivid and memorable titular character and some of Mozart's best music particularly the Commendatore scene.

Of the Don Giovannis I've seen, my favourites are the Joseph Losey film and the 1987 production with Samuel Ramey in the title role. This Met production is still very good. I have very few complaints about it actually, though when I saw the entire production recently online I thought the picture quality could've been much clearer, it is often very grainy.

Luckily though the sound is fine, perhaps occasionally with a little bit too much fuzz, but you can hear the orchestra and singing so that's the most important thing. The costumes and sets are generally excellent, not too drab and not too sumptuous either. Only the Commendatore's costume didn't do much for me, I don't know why he was dressed like a cardinal.

The Met's opera productions are nearly always wonderful musically and I wasn't let down here. Mozart's music is so good, it would be a shame if it wasn't performed well. Fortunately it is, very well. The orchestra are stylish and passionate and Richard Bonynge's conducting makes for a solid and not too stodgy reading. The Chorus are excellent.

Same with the principal performances. Least effective would probably be John Brecknock as Ottavio. That is not to say he is bad, his voice is well-controlled, pitched and not too strained, apart from some nice touches such as in the recitative to Donna Anna's Non Mi Dir he comes across as rather stand-there-and-sing quality in his acting.

Joan Sutherland was a wonderful soprano and one of my favourites for her bell-like ringing(not to mention huge!) top, superb agility and technique and trumpet-like clarity in her sound. All these come to an advantage in regards to her performance of Donna Anna, and she sings as beautifully as ever even if her middle register is sometimes flat. If there are any things I wasn't crazy about, I did feel as though her diction was not always easy to decipher, and while she is gracious in her mannerisms I didn't feel the fire I get when hearing or seeing Donna Anna.

Allan Monk is a solid Massetto, Huguette Tourangeau is an adorable Zerlina blending beautifully with Morris in La Ci Darem La Manno and John Macurdy is a suitably imposing Commendatore. James Morris was much better than expected in the title role. Now that doesn't mean that Morris isn't a good singer, I just wasn't sure whether the role would suit him. Then I thought if Raimondi, Pinza, Ghiaurov and Ramey could excel at the role(they are bass-baritones/basses, Giovanni is a baritone role) so could Morris. Morris copes very well with the range, with Champagne Aria not too forced in the tone, and performs the role with swagger, arrogance and charisma.

The two best performers were Julia Varady who brings some welcome spite to Donna Elvira and Gabriel Bacquirer who manages to make Leporello bumbling, loyal, somewhat adorable and often very funny. Vocally these two are excellent, Varady always did have a lovely voice and Bacquier's is rich and full of great vocal expression.

Overall, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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