Thomson Smillie’s series of Opera Explained audiobooks on individual operatic works is the perfect introduction for the would-be opera fan. Each title in the series runs about an hour, features plenty of recorded clips, and is narrated with pluck and good humor by David Timson. Your opera education starts here.
"These stunning bars of D-minor...mark the beginning of one of opera’s strangest and most powerful journeys." So begins Smillie’s treatment of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This audiobook explains why this lushly told story of the last day in the life of a libertine has become the 10th most performed opera of all time and was greeted to rapturous ovations upon its 1787 premiere in Prague. Also interesting are the biographical details of Mozart’s brief, brilliant life.
Don Giovanni has long been regarded as Mozart’s supreme theatrical achievement. The subject seems unpromising - the last day in the life of the notorious womanizer Don Juan - but the skill of the librettist allied to the genius of Mozart at the very peak of his powers has created a work which is not only highly entertaining but reflects an incredible understanding of the human condition.
©2003 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2003 Naxos AudioBooks
I have recently developed a passion for opera that has found me attending an opera I know little about beforehand. A colleague in London got tickets for Don Giovanni and I decided my first visit to Covent Garden demanded a little investment in preparation ahead of time. This series from Naxos is just perfect to get you ready to attend an opera with a little bit of historical and musical context to make the experience richer.
The recording is only about 1 hour and 20 minutes long. The narrator is good, he provides not only background for the specific opera in question but also for other operas by the same composer. Clips of the music are part of the 'explanation' - one of the nicest feature of audiobooks vs. reading a regular text.
So, you get a summary of the story, some musical interludes and some historical and musical context - helpful to allow you to focus more attention on the music and the staging once you get to the opera.
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