Mozart: Don Giovanni - Siepi, Bjoner, Valletti; Guadagno. 1964
Listen to a Sample:
Mozart and Da Ponte's Don Giovanni is one of opera's greatest characters, endlessly fascinating and mutable, and a great Giovanni can elevate an otherwise pedestrian performance. That's what happens here. Although Ingrid Bjoner's Donna Anna is very fine (if a little placid dramatically), and Cesare Valletti and Ezio Flagello are on hand to provide their reliable turns as Ottavio and Leoporello, this performance belongs to Cesare Siepi. Few artists have owned this role in their time as he did. Maybe Thomas Allen and Samuel Ramey have come close since….maybe. His is an elegant, seductive Don with a believable cruel streak and a dangerous temper. The confrontation with the Commendatore (a sturdy Louis Sgarro) is especially thrilling, and his melting seranade is undercut only by the bizarre decision to play the mandolin part on a piano. Anton Guadagno's tempi do no favors for the cast. The sound, clearly captured by a member of the audience, is good for the era but overlaid with a lot of stage noise and occasionally some noise from the audience. Still, it's worth it for Siepi's scintillating Don.