OP2988. DON GIOVANNI, Live Performance, 12 July, 1973, Munich, w.Sawallisch Cond.Bayerischen Staatsoper & Bayerisches Staatsorchester; Ruggero Raimondi (Don Giovanni), Margaret Price (Donna Anna), Julia Varady (Donna Elvira), Lucia Popp (Zerlina), Kurt Moll (Il Commendatore), Stafford Dean (Leporello), Hermann Winkler (Don Ottavio), etc. (Austria) 3-Orfeo C846153D. - 4011790846323
“Even at the big opera houses it’s a real stroke of luck if a production of Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI doesn’t have just a charismatic Don, but a whole ensemble that’s able to exert its magnetism over the assembled. This rare constellation – having an engaging title hero whose gifts are matched by the objects of his passion – in fact came about in 1973 at the Munich Opera Festival. Ruggero Raimondi was in his early 30s at the time and his unmistakeable, agile, irresistible bass-baritone voice veritably conquered the Bavarian State Opera. In the process he established himself as the Don Giovanni of his generation. But while he was the centre of attention, he was by no means the only sensation of the production. With Margaret Price as Donna Anna, Julia Varady as Donna Elvira and Lucia Popp as Zerlina he was faced with a trio of sopranos who in their individual arias and in their numerous, tricky ensemble numbers turned the evening into a musical feast – as we can now hear in this live recording of the opening night. In the midst of these powerful, highly individual personalities, Hermann Winkler’s lyric dramatic tenor and Stafford Dean’s agile lyric buffo bass were well able to hold their ground as Don Ottavio and the servant Leporello respectively. Enrico Fissore offered a vigorous Masetto, while Giovanni’s final descent into hell was made doubly gripping by the dark bass of Kurt Moll’s Commendatore and by Wolfgang Sawallisch at the helm of the Bavarian State Orchestra. This was a DON GIOVANNI of fast-paced tempi, with a momentum brilliantly geared to the dramatic trajectory, carried by the lyrical qualities of its singers, and with a perfect sense of poise and exhilarating intimacy at just the right moments.”
“Kurt Moll, the imposing German bass whose theatrical flair and cavernous low notes allowed him to plumb the serenity, humor and ferocity of a wide array of operatic characters created by Mozart, Strauss and Wagner, was his generation’s pre-eminent Baron Ochs in Strauss’ DER ROSENKAVALIER, mixing humor with a distinct tinge of menace in his portrayal of the character, a boorish lecher who gets his comeuppance. It was not a role that came easily to him. ‘Well, it took me forever to do it properly’, Mr. Moll said in a wide-ranging interview with THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1979. ‘It’s probably the hardest role in the bass repertory, and what’s hard is capturing the infinite number of nuances of both the language and the music. No doubt about it, Ochs is a real killer!’
But Mr. Moll was equally persuasive in other, quite different parts. He made a spiritual, magisterial Sarastro in Mozart’s DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE. Reviewing a 1991 performance, Donal Henahan wrote in THE TIMES that he ‘not only projected Sarastro’s mystic nobility and humanity, but also, more solidly and audibly than any basso profundo in years, the role’s subterranean F’s and F sharps of his two arias’.
Mr. Moll was a comic, scene-stealing Osmin in Mozart’s DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL and a stentorian Commendatore in Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI. And he sang a wide range of Wagner’s fathers, cuckolds, giants and monarchs. He became especially known for his Gurnemanz, the old knight in PARSIFAL.
Mr. Moll once offered an insight into his approach to singing opera while discussing how, in Wagner’s TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, he tackled the part of the melancholy King Marke, who loses his bride to his would-be heir. ‘His monologue contains some of the most ravishing music ever written, but it’s also very long and very inward’, he said . ‘If the bass isn’t careful, he will find that his audience has fallen fast asleep by the end of it. You can stand there in your beard, and that beard will seem to get longer and longer as you sing’.”
- Michael Cooper, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 March, 2017