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Rod Parke
Seattle Gay News, August 2015

Elisabeth Grümmer equals Steber in all ways and amazes with her powerful, Wagnerian voice, which has great warmth and gorgeous soft high notes. Because tenor Donald Grobe is little known in the U.S., I’ll mention what a wonderful Don Ottavio he gives us here. Lovely sound, handsome appearance, and above all excellent Mozartian style characterize this performance. © 2015 Seattle Gay News Read complete review

Blair Skinner
Operagasm, January 2012

The most striking feature of the performance was the youthful interpretation of the piece by Maestro Ferenc Fricsay. It is extremely rare to hear a Mozart performance from a conductor of that generation without having been struck with the blunt force of a stodgy, self-indulgent, and antiquated aesthetic that was meant to stay under lock and key in the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Fricsay’s approach…is very much in keeping with today’s historical performance experts as far as tempi, phrasing, and melodic inflection. © 2012 Operagasm Read complete review

William R. Braun
Opera News, January 2012

this performance, with its sense of purpose and the seriousness of its attempt to honor everything in the score, takes us closer to the heart of the opera than most others. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review

Robert Benson, December 2011

The cast is perfection, director Carl Ebert has sensible, simple sets, and appropriate costumes. Camera work (black and white) is effective, and the mono sound is well balanced. It is a pleasure to watch one of the great conductors of the past at work in music he loves. This is a classic performance of Mozart’s masterpiece. © 2011 Read complete review

Frank Behrens
Art Times, December 2011

The cast was a very good one…Fischer-Dieskau’s Don is charming…Grobe has a strong tenor that…gives…virility to the role…well-sung performances.

Musik’s “Don Giovanni” is a good example of what opera was like in that time of history. © 2011 Art Times

Frank Behrens
Keene (New Hampshire) Sentinel, November 2011

In 1961, the newly rebuilt Deutsche Oper Berlin opened to the public with “Don Giovanni.” The next day, the performance was telecast; and now, 50 years later, the telecast has at last been captured in a two-DVD set from ArtHaus Musik.

The cast was quite a good one for its time: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Giovanni), Walter Berry (Leporello), Ivan Sardi (Massetto), Donald Grobe (Ottavio), Josef Greindl (Commendatore), Elisabeth Grummer (Anna), Pilar Lorengar (Elvira), and Erika Koth (Zerlina).

Since opera hadn’t reached the stage in which every one dressed in crumpled overcoats as part of some director’s concept of “what Mozart really had in mind,” and the Don Giovanni’s hadn’t become scowling sociopaths, the piece is performed with little “concept” at all.

Fischer-Dieskau’s Don is charming, Leporello is clownish (getting the only laughs from the audience) and the rest go through their paces with little conviction behind their well-sung performances.

Of course, no one can do anything with the extraneous Don Ottavio, who is given both his arias in this production, but Grobe has a strong tenor that at least gives some virility to the role.

Lorengar shows not a hint of madness in her singing or acting: Although her opening aria should be a musical study in mental unbalance, her voice is simply too sweet and underpowered for the part.

Even with three hours of music, this production seems to rush things to the extent that the curtain comes down as Berry is still singing the last notes of the Catalogue Aria. Did they really need those extra seconds to change the scenery? In fact, Berry is the one member of the cast who tries to create a character. But we must blame conductor Ferenc Friscay or even stage director Carl Ebert for the slack dramatics from the others.

I must now mention a critical element of this production. It is entirely in German (with subtitles in six languages). Singing in the local language was common back then. This changed when high-priced singers of all nationalities could hop from opera house to opera house, having memorized the lyrics in the original languages.

Gone was a national singing style, but back were the original words. So ArtHaus Musik’s “Don Giovanni” is a good example of what opera was like in that time of history.

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