- Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527
Don Giovanni is unclassifiable. An unprecedented combination of comedy and seriousness, this "dramma giocoso" (serious comedy), as Mozart himself called it, is jam-packed with drama. There's a murder, an attempted rape, a violent beating, and -- this being the story of Don Juan -- seduction. What's miraculous is the way the opera sails so smoothly from boisterous slapstick to sorrow and back again, a feature particularly prominent in this classic recording because the characterizations are so strong. Eberhard Wächter's gruff Don Giovanni is equal parts villain and seducer. Joan Sutherland makes Donna Anna's purity as palpable as her passion to avenge her father's murder. Giuseppe Taddei is the Don's manservant Leporello, an obsequious guy with a serious self-esteem problem who alternately admires and is disgusted by his master. Best of all, perhaps, is Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's Donna Elvira, whose love for the libidinous Don is rendered with tremendous and touching dignity. The Philharmonia Orchestra plays with effervescent elegance for Carlo Maria Giulini.