Friday, November 1, 2013

Sunday Classics TV Watch: "White Collar" 's Neal Caffrey's Mozart is Leporello's little list


On last week's White Collar episode, "Out of the Frying Pan," Mozzie (Willie Garson) and Neal (Matt Bomer) planned a caper.
LEPORELLO: My dear lady, this is a catalog
of the beauties my master has loved,
a list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.

(1) Gabriel Bacquier (b), Leporello; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1978
(2) Ferruccio Furlanetto (bs), Leporello; Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded Jan. 1985

by Ken

I thought I was going to be really topical tonight, pouncing on Neal Caffrey's choreographed White Collar routine to Leporello's "Madamina," and then I remembered that through the miracle of DVR technology I was watching last week's episode, "Out of the Frying Pan," in which Neal wsa rehearsing this elaborate routine choreographed Mozzie in order -- as we eventually found out -- to surveillance cameras for a necessary heist.


WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THE WOOFY
PERFORMANCE THEY USED ON THE SHOW


When we hear the whole aria, in a moment, we're going to start back in the preceding recitative, as Don Giovanni turns the problem of getting rid of the eternally infernally problematic Donna Elvira to his manservant Leporello. Before we get to that, though, I thought I'd tease the strikingly contrasting second section of the aria, when Leporello switches from his geographical cataloguing of his master's conquests to some descriptive commentary on his seduction techniques. (You'll note that the role is shared by baritones and basses, and we've got samples of both.)

Leporello, "Nella bionda egli ha l'usanza"
("With blondes it is his habit")

With blondes it is his habit
to praise their kindness;
in brunettes, their faithfulness;
in the very blonde, their sweetness.
In winter he likes fat ones,
in summer he likes thin ones.
He calls the tall ones majestic.

(1) Gabriel Bacquier (b), Leporello; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1978
(2) Ferruccio Furlanetto (bs), Leporello; Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded Jan. 1985


NOW LET'S LISTEN TO THE WHOLE THING

We start with an extract from the famous 1942 Bruno Walter-conducted Met broadcast Don Giovanni with the formidable bass tandem of Ezio Pinza as the Don and Alexander Kipnis as Leporello. Then we hear a live performance featuring the ranking Leporello of the '50s and '60s, Fernando Corena. Finally we hear a really wonderful performance by bass-baritone José van Dam, wonderfully partnered by Kiri Te Kanawa as Elvira, from my second-favorite Don Giovanni recording (behind the 1055 Krips-Decca).

MOZART: Don Giovanni, K. 527: Act I, Recitative, "Se non credete al labbro mio" ("If you don't believe my lips") . . . Aria, Leporello, "Madamina, il catalogo è questo" ["My dear lady, this is a catalog"]
DON GIOVANNI [to ELVIRA]: If you don't believe my lips, then believe this gentleman here.
LEPORELLO [aside]: Anything but the truth.
DON GIOVANNI [to LEPORELLO]: Go on, tell her.
LEPORELLO [aside to DON GIOVANNI]: And what shall I tell her?
DON GIOVANNI: Yes, yes, tell her anything.
DONNA ELVIRA [to LEPORELLO, while DON GIOVANNI slips away unnoticed by her]: All right, but hurry up.
LEPORELLO: Madam . . . really . . . in this world, when it happens that a square is not a circle . . .
DONNA ELVIRA: Wretch! Thus you mock my grief? Ah, you . . .
[Turning to address DON GIOVANNI]
Good heavens! The villain has fled! Alas, where could he be? Where?
LEPORELLO: Oh, let him go. He doesn't deserve to be worried over.
DONNA ELVIRA: The wretch tricked me, betrayed me . . .
LEPORELLO: Calm yourself! You are not, were not and will not be either the first or the last. Look: this fat little book is entirely full of the names of his sweethearts. Each town, each district, each countryside testifies to his affairs with women.

Aria, Leporello
My dear lady, this is a catalog
of the beauties my master has loved,
a list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.
In Italy, 640;
in Germany, 231;
a hundred in France; in Turkey 91.
In Spain already 1003.
Among these are peasant girls,
maidservants, city girls,
countesses, baronesses,
marchionesses, princesses,
women of every rank,
every shape, every age.
In Italy six hundred and forty, etc.

With blondes it is his habit
to praise their kindness;
in brunettes, their faithfulness;
in the very blonde, their sweetness.
In winter he likes fat ones,
in summer he likes thin ones.
He calls the tall ones majestic.
The little ones are always charming.
He seduces the old ones
for the pleasure of adding to the list.
His greatest favorite
is the young beginner.
It doesn't matter if she's rich,
ugly or beautiful;
if she is rich, ugly or beautiful.
If she wears a petticoat,
you know what he does.
If she wears a petticoat, etc.
[He leaves.]

Ezio Pinza (bs), Don Giovanni; Alexander Kipnis (bs), Leporello; Jarmila Novotna (s), Donna Elvira; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Bruno Walter, cond. Live performance, Mar. 7, 1942

George London (b), Don Giovanni; Fernando Corena (bs), Leporello; Eleanor Steber (s), Donna Elvira; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Max Rudolf, cond. Live perfomance, Mar. 13, 1954

Eberhard Wächter (b), Don Giovanni; Giuseppe Taddei (b), Leporello; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (s), Donna Elvira; Philharmonia Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. EMI, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1959

Ruggero Raimondi (bs), Don Giovanni; José van Dam (bs-b), Leporello; Kiri Te Kanawa (s), Donna Elvira; Orchestra of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra, Lorin Maazel, cond. CBS-Sony, recorded June 22-July 26, 1978

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