[Met Performance] CID:176710
Don Giovanni {191} American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 01/7/1958.

(Review)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Academy of Music
January 7, 1958


DON GIOVANNI {191}

Don Giovanni............Cesare Siepi
Donna Anna..............Eleanor Steber
Don Ottavio.............Cesare Valletti
Donna Elvira............Lucine Amara
Leporello...............Fernando Corena
Zerlina.................Roberta Peters
Masetto.................Theodor Uppman
Commendatore............Norman Scott

Conductor...............Karl Böhm

Review of Edwin H. Schloss in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Metropolitan Opera at the Academy-
Full House Hears 'Don Giovanni'

The Metropolitan Opera Association rose to a midseason peak of rare distinction with a performance of "Don Giovanni" presented with brilliant éclat to the usual sold-out house present in the Academy of Music last night in defiance of the weather.

"Don Giovanni" in its lesser operatic incarnations can sometimes add up to nothing more than a concert in costume although, thanks to its enchanting tunes and romantic arias and ensembles it is always likely to be a good concert at that.

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But last night an extra dimension was added. The production has been staged with discipline and tasteful imagination by Herbert Graf. It has been endowed with richly dignified sets and costumes by Eugene Berman. And last night, knowingly conducted by Karl Böhm, it emerged as a triumph of the lyric theater of a kind few operatic organizations can equal today.

Eleanor Steber, as Donna Anna; rose to new heights in a characterization vivid with dramatic power histrionically and vocally. Early in the evening in the vengeful and difficult "Or sai chi l'onore" she showed the resources of a topflight artist and here, as later in the more florid "Non mi dir," Miss Steber proved herself a Mozartean stylist in the grand manner.

Cesare Siepi in the title role gave a similarly vital and creative impersonation. Vocally he was smooth and flexible. Visually he was live and handsome. The Don is both a rake and a charmer - a cynical villain and an ingratiating heart-breaker. The feverish recklessness of the "Champagne Aria" and the sensuous beguilement of "La ci darem la mano" show twin facets of this legendary squire of dames and Siepi was admirable in both.

Fernando Corena as the sly and rascally henchman Leporello, gave a rounded impersonation that avoided some of the empty buffooneries that sometimes creep into the part. He stopped the show with his "Catalogue" aria. Norman Scott's basso was sonorous and properly sepulchral as the Commendatore both in the flesh and stone.

To Karl Bõhm, formerly of the Vienna State Opera (Don Giovanni's native heath), goes the credit for an admirably integrated and well modulated performance at the conductor's desk. Bõhm's tempi were at times on the deliberate European side, but he never lapsed in his sense of theatrical pace when more urgency was indicated.



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