[Met Performance] CID:205240

Don Giovanni
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, January 29, 1966 Matinee Broadcast

Don Giovanni (252)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Lorenzo Da Ponte
Don Giovanni
Cesare Siepi

Donna Anna
Teresa Stich-Randall

Don Ottavio
Jan Peerce

Donna Elvira
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf [Last performance]

Geraint Evans

Rosalind Elias

Theodor Uppman

Nicola Ghiuselev

Joseph Rosenstock

Herbert Graf

Eugene Berman

Zachary Solov

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia

Don Giovanni received fourteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Alan Rich in the Herald Tribune

Familiar Opera - Unusual Aspects

The Metropolitan Opera has given wonderful performances of "Don Giovanni" in the past, so I have to be very careful, in explaining what was exceptional about last Saturday afternoon's performance - the first of this season - without running down any of the others.

It has to do principally with a matter of dramatic strength. Either by accident or design, the participants in this particular performance, several of them familiar in their roles, some of them newcomers, formed a remarkably cohesive acting unit, and the interplay among them seemed unusually fresh and interesting. Now, you see, I've already said the wrong thing; how could any "Don Giovanni" be anything but interesting, considering the quality of Mozart's music? Well, anyhow?

A great deal of the interest focused, naturally, on Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's Donna Elvira, her first at the house but a familiar commodity on records. Well, Miss Schwarzkopf was a marvelous Elvira, but that is not the whole story. She was marvelous, you see, in a very special way, and a rather controversial one. Her portrayal was extremely tense. She probably has to be that way these days because - let's face it - there are vocal demands in the role which are pretty taxing to a singer who has been around for a while. But Miss Schwarzkopf was up to these demands: her "Mi tradi," one of the hardest arias in the world, was vocally just about perfect, but she obviously had to work terribly hard for every note, here and everywhere in the opera, and this is where the tension arose. What was especially shrewd and winning was the way she has managed to capitalize on this problem, and to work it into a total conception.

The result, however, was to alter somewhat the relationship between the Elvira and Anna, to make the former the hysterical, almost deranged personage and the latter the warmer, more human individual. This worked, because Teresa Stich-Randall, the Anna. sang the role with all her accustomed vocal splendor, but with a warmth and lightness that are quite new in her interpretation. Both characters, thus, became tremendously vivid, intriguing, somewhat novel but totally acceptable.

Another great change was the one Geraint Evans brought to the role of Leporello. He avoided completely all the traditional buffo lip-smacking and other kinds of delicatessen, and created instead a somewhat stronger foil for Don Giovanni, free in spirit and with a wealth of ideas of his own. Here was a Leporello one could respect, even take on as a friend.

Rosalind Elias also created a new kind of Zerlina, although this was a little less successful. Miss Elias is a mezzo-soprano, and although she certainly had all the notes in command for this soprano role (minus a couple at the end of "Batti batti," perhaps), the notes still lie wrong for her, in the least interesting and flexible part of the register. Furthermore, Miss Elias' Zerlina is a creature who has a little too much of Carmen in her makeup, so that one wondered sometimes who was out to seduce whom.

Otherwise, there were the usual old friends: Cesare Siepi's immensely dashing Don, Theodor Uppman's delightful, light-footed Masetto, and Jan Peerce's mixed but often astonishing Ottavio. Nicola Ghiuselev's Commendatore was musically intelligent, although - as suspected at his debut - his voice is really too small for the house. Joseph Rosenstock's conducting remains just about his most distinguished achievement at the Met, warm-hearted and eminently sensible.


Thus, it was a "Don Giovanni" concocted out of a canny mixture of new and old, good ideas and one or two that were less happy. The Eugene Berman sets and costumes remain one of the great visual delights at the house, and Patrick Tavernia has introduced a few new fresh ideas in the staging. It may not be the best performance the company has ever given, but it is one eminently worth your while. It honors Mozart's score, which is all that really needs to be said.

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