Mozart’s Don Giovanni – Work No. 71 in our collection

The Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27.01.1756 – 05.12.1791) was, during his short lifetime, one of the most prolific composers of the classical era. He showed prodigious ability from an early age. Already competent as a pianist and violinist, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. Mozart went on to compose more than 600 works, many of which are acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music.

In 1781, Mozart moved away from Salzburg to the musically more sophisticated Vienna, where he was a freelance composer, pianist and teacher. From the outset, in Vienna, he enjoyed considerable success, particularly as a pianist performing his own concertos and with his early comic opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782). During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, including Don Giovanni the score of which was completed on 28 or 29 October 1787.

Don Giovanni, K527 is a two-act opera with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer and it mixes serious and comic action, as was common at the time. The opera is a brilliant combination of stark human tragedy and touching comedy, set to music of limitless genius.

The very finest recording of this opera is available on Warner Classics, in a re-mastered version, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini with a truly great selection of soloists including Joan Sutherland, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Eberhard Wächter. Giulini gives us an account that supremely lyrical whilst being highly dramatic and often full of excitement. Joan Sutherland is an imperious but womanly Donna Anna, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf is strong voiced and yet suitably vulnerable as Donna Elvira and Eberhard Wächter is a dashing Don Giovanni. Altogether wonderful stuff!

 

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