When one thinks of Don Giovanni, the lady-killing Spaniard, one invariably also thinks of Ezio Pinza, in whose hands the Met's production of Mozart's opera has become a perennial success. Thursday evening was no exception: the Opera House was packed to the ceiling and Pinza stole the show. Or rather, Pinza made the show. It was unfortunate that with the exception of the rotund buffoonbass Salvatore Baccaloni, who sang Leporello, the supporting cast did not quite click. Charles Kullman as Don Ottavio gave an adequate performance of some of the best music of the opera, but you couldn't always hear him. And Rose Bampton's Donna Anna, a difficult role to be sure, was still a disappointment.
But it takes a great deal to spoil such a masterpiece as "Don Giovanni," and Messrs. Pinza and Baccaloni sang and clowned their way through three hours of Mozart with great success. With unique genius "Don Giovanni" portrays the interplay of two most fundamental of life's forces: religion and sex. In the cataclysmic conclusion of the opera, when the statue accepts the arrogant nobleman's invitation to dinner, we realize that it can be only a supernatural power which will bring Don Giovanni to his doom. Behind the opera's dramatic end is one of the greatest portrayals of right's ascension over wrong.
It can be no wonder, then, that "Don Giovanni" has earned its rank as first among operas. Fritz Busch, another grand old name around the Met, did a magnificent job with his orchestra. Particularly commendable was his handling of the dance scene in Act II, when three small on-stage orchestras are playing a waltz, a gavotte, and a minuet, all combined with the pit orchestra in an ingenious contrapuntal pattern. Opera orchestras are not always as skillful as they might be, but this week has shown no deficiencies along that line.