Straight, to hell

That classic Mozart/da Ponte warning against the dangers of the heterosexual lifestyle, Don Giovanni, is the basis for La Cieca’s next podcast. It’s an example of what is called “big house Mozart” — in other words, Mozart performed in a grand opera house, with full-voiced Verdian and Wagnerian singers, and in general overlaid with a Romantic sensibility. The venue is the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the date is February 19, 1962. Georg Solti wields the baton, and the lavish casting includes Cesare Siepi, Geraint Evans, and what must be both the most starry and the best-contrasted trio of leading ladies ever assembled: Leyla Gencer, Sena Jurinac and Mirella Freni. Unnatural Acts of Opera.

6 Responses to “Straight, to hell”

  1. I saw this production. It was fabulous but not as fabulous as my first Don at the Met in ’57 with Siepi, Corena, Peerce, Uppman, Steber, Della Casa, Peters, Con. Boehm?,dir.Graf, sets,Berman. Also at Covent Garden in ’63 with Gobbi as the Don, older but very lecherous.

  2. Wow, I can’t even begin to compete with montyd, but I did manage to hear Sena Jurinac live in San Francisco in the mid-1970s playing the evil stepmother in “Jenufa” and literally singing the paint off the walls during her let’s-kill-the-baby-mad-scene. She’s god. And so is Mirella Freni.

    Unfortunately, I saw Cesare Siepi playing the Don at the very end of his career, and though it was a definitive performance, it wasn’t quite right. Il Catalogo finally didn’t seem like an exaggeration because the Don was so advanced in years that the tallies seemed possible.

  3. Michael Farris Says:

    Without having listened, on paper, Gencer, Jurinac and Freni sounds like a sushi fondue with whipped cream on top (each of the ingredients is fine, but … together?).

    But the miracle of live performances can make such unlikely combinations work.

  4. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    As La Cieca mentions how in the past Mozart operas were cast with heavy voices in each role – if you all really want to hear the loudest Don Giovanni ever, listen to the recording with Siepi, Leontyne Price as Elivra and Birgit Nilsson as Anna. Leontyne was also a very good Anna and my dear friend Martina Arroyo made two fabulous recordings singing each role – in all, these are truly some of the heaviest casts for this opera – but all outstanding!

  5. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Also, one of my favorite but oh-so-hard-to-come-by recordings of Don G. is one done by Richard Bonynge with Dame Joan as Anna, Pilar Lorengar as Elvira (fabulous!), Bacquier, Gramm, Werner Krenn as Ottavio (who is a personal fav of mine, especially since he, like me, is also a bassoonist! – so is Siegfried Jerusalem), and probably the BEST Zerlina I have ever heard by…..Marilyn Horne!

    Also, I highly recommend watching the video of Don G. at La Scala with Muti, Allen, Araiza, Gruberova, Ann Murray (before she lost her voice and got the wobble)…they sing the MESS out of the opera – the production is so-so, but the singing and the orchestra and tempi are brilliant.

  6. rysanekfreak Says:

    I love the Bonynge “Don Giovanni.”

    It was the first time I heard the Zerlina-Leporello duet. (It gives us a break between two big arias.)

    Plus the Bonynge version has some tasteful embellishments in the repeats.

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