Charles Mackerras' 1995 recording of Don Giovanni with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra & Chorus is intriguing largely because it includes both the original Prague version and the revised Vienna version of the middle of the second act. The Prague version ends the second CD and the Vienna version opens the third CD, making it easy for listeners to skip over whichever version they choose, or just play the discs straight through and listen to both. The performances on the whole, though, are not consistently strong enough to make this a particularly competitive reading of the opera. Several roles are very well taken. Bo Skovhus makes a charismatic and roguish Don Giovanni, with the dramatic skills to make the complex character fully convincing. His singing is powerful, and his tone is secure and ringing throughout his range. As Zerlina, Nuccia Focile is a wide-eyed but beguiling innocent, and she acts beautifully with her expressive voice, which is consistently warm and lyrical. Their chemistry makes "Là ci darem la mano" one of the album's highlights. Felicity Lott is dramatically effective as Donna Elvira, but her voice, which sounds marvelous when it's soaring, lacks power and sounds unsupported in its lower register. Christine Brewer's Donna Anna is inconsistent; for some stretches, her voice lacks substance and has a slightly grainy sound, but she persuasively pulls off her big moments. Jerry Hadley as Don Ottavio doesn't always sound entirely in control, and his lower register is often weak, but he handles "Il mio tesoro intanto" nicely. Alessandro Corbelli brings genuine comic gifts to Leporello, but he doesn't have the power necessary and his vibrato sometimes obscures the pitch. The playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is exemplary -- crisp and flexible -- and the use of natural horns and Classical-era trombones and timpani works well with the stylistically sensitive playing of the rest of the ensemble. The sound is vivid, and the discreet use of sound effects is convincing.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3
|Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527|