Mozart: Don Giovanni (In German) - Ahlersmeyer, Schech, Böhme, Hopf, Frick, Teschenmacher; Elmendorff. Dresden, 1943
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The wonderful thing about recordings of Mozart from the 1940s is that the casts often resemble what you would likely see if you were at a Wagner or Strauss opera. I am not suggesting, necessarily, that Mozart benefits from oversized voices, it is just noteworthy that singers so well versed in Wagner could scale back their voices and convey the subtlety and elegance of Mozartian style and then soar over the ensembles with a level of intensity that, for example, the Act I finale of Don Giovanni requires. The vocal standout for me in this recording is the Donna Anna of Marianne Schech. The meat of Schech’s voice was in her gleaming top, which makes for some very exciting singing particularly in ”Or sai chi l’onore”. She is well matched by Hans Hopf as Don Ottavio. In his later years subtle was not an adjective often ascribed to Hopf, but heard here while still in his 20s he reveals a lyricism and bloom that I had never heard from this singer. Mathieau Ahlersmeyer’s Don Giovanni is surprisingly good, bringing all the appropriate suave elegance to the role. Kurt Böhme is a spirited Leporello and a young Gottlob Frick shows a totally different side to his artistry than he would later when he dominated the role of Hagen in Götterdämmerung. The only disappointment is the rather unappealing Zerlina of Elfried Weidlich. Karl Elmendorff’s interpretation is unapologetically romantic yet never too ponderous (read: slow.) On a historical note, it is remarkable that this performance was able to take place in Dresden even during the last months of the war. The sounds is good for the era.