I love Don Giovanni, and while this 1961 Deutsch Oper production is not my favourite Don Giovanni, it was still thoroughly enjoyable. The costumes and sets are excellent, and so is the black and white photography. The picture quality was rather fuzzy though.
The story is still compelling, the characters vivid and the music sublime. I personally had no problem with this production being in German, I agree with anyone that the Italian lyrics have more poetry, but unless I am wrong and I could well be, Mozart probably wrote it originally in German and there was an Italian libretto made from it.
The orchestra are superb too, particularly in the Commendatore scene, and Ferenc Fricsay proves why he was one of the better conductors of Mozart and Beethoven at the time.
The performances are absolutely terrific. My least favourite was probably Erika Koth, she can act and sing but her vibrato can be a tad too quivery especially in La Ci Darem La Mano. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau(one of my favourite singers when it comes to his Elijah, Leider, Mahler, Strauss and Bach but rather hit and miss in Verdi, Rigoletto was better than expected but Iago didn't work for me at all) surprised me in the title role and in a good way.
Acting wise he is charming and handsome yet very arrogant and devilish. Vocally he is wonderful, particularly in Gia La Mensa and the Champagne Aria. Some may find Fischer-Dieskau's singing of the Champagne Aria on the barking-side, but I loved the power and gusto he put in it.
Elisabeth Grummer is charming and sings beautifully as Donna Anna, and Walter Berry is one of my favourite ever Leporellos. I just loved how he was hiding under that tiny table in the Commendatore scene. Josef Griendl may have been under the note at times in the intonation, yet the powerful voice and intimidating stage presence was definitely there. I found some of the staging unusual yet very interesting, especially when the Commendatore releases Don Giovanni's hand and we hear but not see him getting dragged down to hell by the furies.
Overall, thoroughly enjoyable. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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