Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto Emanuel Schikaneder
Royal Opera House
This is a recording of the 2019 revival of Kasper Holten’s stunning, forthright production, reviewed live by my colleague Vera Liber. When it was re-revived in the summer of 2021, with a mostly different cast, I also wrote a piece based on the live-stream so I’ll avoid repetition of what has appeared already and just say a few words about three of the leading performers.
Both productions were overseen by revival director Jack Furness, who includes Mozart’s moralising epilogue, omitted by Holten, and both feature the darkly magnificent Erwin Schrott in the title role, the Don for whom hell is meant for everyone else.
Both have splendid Donna Annas, neither of them shrinking violets. Here it’s Malin Byström, a great Mozartian with a voice of crystal clarity and the spirit of a wild cat. When she sings "You’re a scoundrel" in the opening seduction scene, she could be mischievously intoning "Oh, you are wicked".
Roberto Tagliavini, the 2019 Leporello, has a stirring voice but I feel the cap does not fit him so well as it does Gerald Finley two years later. For other cast members, see the review linked above. All are first-class, so it's great to have this permanent record of one of the age's most memorable Giovannis.
As is usual with recent Royal Opera / Opus Arte releases, the booklet includes no information beyond a list of cast and creatives and a one-page synopsis. One would think that some of the ten full-page photographs could be dropped for a commentary, track list and/or artist biographies.
Reviewer: Colin Davison