Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Don Giovanni

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Details At A Glance

Category Opera Booklet
Cast and Characters
Gallery - Glyndebourne In Pictures
Menu Audio and Animation
Web Link
Year Released 1995
Running Time 174:34 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (88:55)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Deborah Warner (Opera)
Derek Bailey (Video)
NVC Arts
Warner Vision
Starring Gilles Cachemaille
Steven Page
Hillevi Martinpelto
Adrianne Pieczonka
John Mark Ainsley
Juliane Banse
Roberto Scaltriti
Gudjon Oskarsson
Case Super Jewel Case
RPI $39.95 Music Some hack by the name of Mozart

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Italian (Dolby Digital 5.0, 448 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio Full Frame
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    It seems like an age since I reviewed the first DVD to come from the famed Glyndebourne Festival Opera, in the form of La Nozze Di Figaro, and so I jumped at the chance to indulge in this second effort from that great festival. It has been an interesting exercise to look back at the earlier review and see how many of the minor irritations of that effort have been rectified in this latest release. Now I am not claiming that it is anything to do directly with me but clearly Warner Vision have taken on board the suggestions of the critics around the world to improve the package - and that has to be a bonus for all concerned. It makes sense for Don Giovanni to be the second release from the Glyndebourne Festival Opera since it was composed by the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1787, to a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, as the second of the three great Italian comic operas from the height of Mozart's prowess. Another great favourite with audiences, this is another great opera for novices to start with. Over the years there have been some great performances at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera of Don Giovanni, and it is almost a staple in the repertoire there. This is not an absolutely great performance, but it is certainly quite decent and with some fine singers who have been involved in some noteworthy compact disc recordings of the opera. Now if we get the third of the great trio next, that being Cosi Fan Tutte, I will be most pleased.

    The broad synopsis of this opera is centred around its titular character, Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni is a womanizer of the highest order who uses his power and standing to seduce women of all sorts. The opera starts with his seduction of Donna Anna, who mistakenly thinks he is her beloved in Don Ottavio. Realizing she has been tricked into forfeiting her virginity, she pursues the fleeing Don Giovanni whilst screaming for help. After struggling with the deceiver, her father the Commedatore emerges to render assistance, only to be murdered by Don Giovanni, who departs the scene with his ever-suffering servant Leporello. Donna Anna returns to the scene with her beloved Don Ottavio to find her dead father and is distraught, pleading with Don Ottavio to swear to avenge her father's murder. Arriving on the scene is Donna Elvira, hell bent on revenge against Don Giovanni after the wrongs he has done to her, and willing to spread the sordid details of the way he operates to all and sundry. The scene changes to a party near the house of Don Giovanni where the newly weds Masetta and Zerlina are celebrating, at least until Don Giovanni turns up and seduces the beautiful Zerlina. Donna Elvira turns up too to denounce Don Giovanni and Donna Anna is there to realize that Don Giovanni is the one who violated her and murdered her father. Basically the rest of the opera is all about the hunt for Don Giovanni and his eventual descent into hell for failing to repent.

    What more could you want in an opera? Sex, lies, intrigue, retribution and seduction. This is another glorious masterpiece of the genre. Magnificent music, some quite glorious arias and a story to keep the interest high. Whilst this is not the greatest cast ever assembled for this opera, it is certainly a pretty good one. Stand out for me is Juliane Banse who is quite wonderful as Zerlina, but she is barely ahead of Hillevi Martinpelto as Donna Anna. Gilles Cachemaille is a good Don Giovanni, and Steven Page is good as the suffering Leporello. Be aware though - this is a minimalist production with virtually no stage set to speak of, if your tastes should tend towards the traditional opera with big stage sets. The music is provided by the Orchestra of The Age Of Enlightenment, one of the best of the original instrument orchestras, and so you have here an orchestral sound rather similar to what would have been heard at the premiere of the opera in Prague in 1787. Overall, an enjoyable rendition of this great opera that bodes well for (hopefully) further releases in the series.

Transfer Quality


    One thing is once again quite readily apparent with the transfer - how clean it is, with nothing to distract you from the enjoyment.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp and well-defined throughout, very slightly marred only by a couple of minor lapses of slightly diffuse image. This is helped by the very clean and clear transfer, although depth in such a stage production is not that great: obviously this is not a transfer problem but rather an inherent problem with the production. Shadow detail is not great, but this is also a reflection of the staging of the opera rather than any problems with the transfer. There is no problem with grain in the transfer, and low level noise is also not a problem.

    The colours have quite a rich tone to them, although it is a quite natural looking colourscape. This is quite a vibrant transfer, mainly as a result of some well thought out stage lighting to emphasize what little colour there is throughout the opera. The colours are consistently rendered, and there did not appear to be any problem with colour oversaturation or bleed.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG or film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, except for some extremely minor problems with aliasing in the ropes that form the lift for the one piece of stage setting. It is not however at all distracting to the performance. There was almost a complete absence of film artefacts in the transfer. From the point of view of purely a video transfer, this is a very clean, natural transfer, well capturing the intended feel of the production.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD, as opposed to the dual sided effort of the earlier release, with the layer change coming during the intermission between Act 1 and Act 2 at 88:55. Obviously a more sensible place for a layer change would be impossible to find!

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks on the DVD, an Italian Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. These are of course the correct language for the opera , and so subtitles in English are provided for your understanding of what is going on. These are however of relatively limited use as they provide subtitles for well less than fifty percent of the singing. Note that the packaging is somewhat misleading in the detail for the language choices: it lists option 1 as an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, when in fact it is the Italian Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. Option 2 is listed an Italian Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack, when in fact it is a straight Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 effort.

    The vocals generally came up clear and understandable in the soundtracks, although at times the 5.0 soundtrack did seem to fluctuate a little in the audio level. This is almost certainly an inherent problem with the staging of the opera, as this was also an issue on the earlier release. This was not a significant problem with the 2.0 soundtrack, but then again that soundtrack misses out on quite a lot of spatial detail.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with either soundtrack.

    The 5.0 soundtrack makes very good use of the surround channels, the rear channels being especially effective with the music. Since opera is very dialogue-based, it is important that this is effectively balanced, and in that regard I have no complaints with the 5.0 soundtrack. A quite wonderfully encompassing sound is generated by the soundtrack and you certainly feel as if you are present at the performance. The bass channel obviously is left out of things here and that may be the only real complaint about the soundtrack.

    The 2.0 soundtrack obviously loses a lot of that detail from the surround channels, and at times the lack is very noticeable, and I doubt that I would listen to this soundtrack given the choice. In general, this is a less effective soundtrack as the sound is a little more recessed. However, if you do not have a 5.0 decoder or the full complement of surround speakers, by adjusting the audio level up a little, this is still a solid, dependable soundtrack that will generate much enjoyment.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This is where the improvement over the earlier release is quite noticeable.


    Some minor audio and animation enhancement certainly spruces things up a bit here, and they are generally much easier to read than the earlier release.

Cast and Characters

    Actually just a single page listing of the cast and the roles they sing. This could really have been, and should really have been, so much more and is the one area where the package has not improved.


    Provides a quite reasonable synopsis of the opera in five languages, which at least gives a guide to the opera in the absence of a full libretto printout.

Gallery - Glyndebourne In Pictures

    Actually twelve photographs showing the house at Glyndebourne and pictures and plans of the old and new opera houses there. A nice little addition to provide a little bit more of a setting for those who have no idea about the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Would have been better though if the photographs were themselves annotated rather than having to jump back to the menu.


    An essential inclusion with any opera DVD, this can be viewed by inserting the DVD into your DVD-ROM drive and opening up the relevant libretto HTML file. You can also print out a Word document from the DVD if you want a more printer friendly version. Whilst I would perhaps have chosen a slightly smaller font for the document, you can of course change this easy enough to suit your personal tastes. Good one Warner Vision!


    A very brief synopsis is provided in the chapter selection menu if you do not feel like getting the booklet out of the super jewel case.

Web Link

    An automated link to the NVC Arts website for those with a DVD-ROM drive.

R4 vs R1

    This is not available in Region 1 as far as I can determine.


    Don Giovanni is another of the great masterpieces of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and this DVD is well worth considering as an addition to any collection. Opera buffs will enjoy this even though it is not the definitive version of the opera.

    A very good video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    A good extras package showing that distributors do listen - occasionally!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
21st September 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL