Well, the final installment of the Currentzis Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy is finally here. It was supposed to be out a while back, but Currentzis apparently wasn't happy with the recording, so he somehow got Sony to finance a complete re-recording.
The result is astounding. I really enjoyed the previous two releases, especially Figaro, but this is something really special. After all this time, you really wouldn't think there was anything new to be said about Don Giovanni, but there is: Currentzis says it. Broadly period-authentic in style - briskly paced, crisp, bristling attacks - it is also unlike anyone else's take on the great opera. It isn't weird or eccentric; everything feels just right. What separates it from the crowd is the depth of attention which is applied to every detail, the profoundly imaginative shaping of each and every phrase, and the extraordinary, razor-sharp precision of the ensemble playing. The stuff, in other words, that everyone else would like to do, but doesn't know how. The singing, in accordance with Currentzis's beliefs - and others in the HIPP world - is a touch "lighter" than usual: less "operatic", more "natural", if there is such a thing. All the roles are superbly sung (including a best-ever Don Ottavio) and the recording is rich, warm and finely detailed.
If you don't know Don Giovanni well or don't even like opera very much, it is certainly a good place to start. If you do know Don Giovanni, however, it is just a delight from start to finish. Everything you want to hear is there, along with so much more: rhythms you hadn't noticed before; melodic lines that you didn't even know where there. Currentzis seems to find more wit and more drama than anyone else - but without losing sight of the overarching dramatic trajectory of the piece; without clogging it up with manneristic clutter. The propulsive drama always moves forward.
Highly recommended, anyway.