Alexander Feht - Composer, Poet, Translator

The unique nexus of talent: Mozart - Don Giovanni / Furtwangler DVD

The unique nexus of talent
Mozart - Don Giovanni / Furtwangler DVD
June 30, 2002

Opera performance involves many people. It is an extremely rare event when each of these people is in the right place at the right time. Furtwaengler's "Don Giovanni", recorded in Salzburg, offers more than that: the lost art of making real music without being vulgar or pedantic, the triumph of taste and experience over modernist pseudointellectuals, the ease of accomplished virtuosity, the impeccable quality of singing, compared to which any Metropolitan opera performance recorded during the last 30 years sounds like an amateurs' rehearsal, compared to which Parteigenosse von Karajan simply fades out of memory like the bloodless, lifeless ghost, inflated to the extent of invisibility. I am not afraid to use the strongest expressions: this is, probably, the best opera performance ever recorded, and it shall stand forever as one of the highest human achievements, putting to shame and tormenting every envious follower of the ephemeral fads and perversions. I am very glad that this recording has been issued on DVD, which substantially improves the quality of sound and image. This DVD is also reasonably priced. Previously, I've cherished a very expensive ($80) and rare VHS tape, somewhat blurry in both sound and image. Now I am given a bliss of seeing it again in sharp and bright colors on wide screen, as if I've been sitting right there, in the orchestra pit, beside good old scary Furtwaengler, breathing the fresh evening air of that miraculous night in Salzburg, watching Don Giovanni, that archetype of modern irresponsibility, being consumed by the flames of confusion and pain he caused to others. Curiously enough, when I was very young, Don Giovanni seemed to me a hero rejecting prejudice and irrationality; the older I became, the uglier stood this freak who flouts prejudice only because he is full of it, because he has challenged the mediocrity not from above but from below. Self-destruction never comes uninvited: "M'invitasti, e son venuto." Alexander Feht