Mozart - Don Giovanni
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The tale of womaniser Don Giovanni and his servant Leporello. Giovanni's attempts to woo Donna Anna end in tragedy when he kills her father in a duel. Anna and her fianc(r) Don Ottavio swear vengeance. Giovanni then attempts to seduce Zerlina at her wedding reception, but is foiled when his former mistress Donna Elvira warns the bride of Giovanni's reputation. Giovanni now has everyone out for his blood, but tries to trick his pursuers by switching places with Leporello.
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Sven-Eric Bechtolf excels with stage direction. His concept is to have the performers act the libretto; they are not just singing and turning to the left and right People in the United States look to Europeans for use of color, style, and design. The setting is a rich, deep rose (or cherry?). Black and white look fantastic against the background; for example, Donna Elvira (Anett Fritsch) comes looking for Don Giovanni wearing a bedraggled wedding gown, ripped sleeve, muddy hem a very witty and ironic costume choice. The used, muddied wedding dress is the character Donna Elvira. In addition, it's visually interesting that Mr. D'Arcangelo and Ms. Ruiten wear rose or magenta in a couple of the scenes, low contrast to the background but effective and beautiful. Herr Bechtolf creates an original, insightful answer to the question: at the end of Act I, how does Don Giovanni escape from two people holding weapons pointed at him? Finally, music sometimes provides happy coincidences: in the opening scene, the Commendatore (Tomasz Konieczny) throws his sword scabbard on the floor when he challenges Don Giovanni. The sword scabbard clangs in perfect key with the music; a detail that makes this production seem flawless. You can imagine Mozart and Da Ponte approve of the vocals in the Salzburg 2014 production, Haus fur Mozart. Buy or download, the production should be definitive for the next decade.
The DVD provides 2 complete operas: the traditional view the audience sees; the Behind the Scenes view that an audience almost never sees. The contrasts show how professional and on-point everyone is behind the scenes, as you probably expect. There are also brief moments where you see the performers and crew enjoying, reacting to, and quietly singing along to Mozart and Da Ponte's score and libretto.
IlDebrando D'arcangelo . It is as if it was produced yesterday. A 2 DVD set I watched over 2 nights, Don Giovanni is for me one of the best Operas.
Thanks to Mozart and all the cast of superb artists, and Amazon for making my wish com true
Kusej is not in sympathy with Giovanni, and he hammers that point with all the subtlety of a finale in hell. The duel between the Commendatore and Giovanni is an assassination of an unarmed man. The Commendatore's blood on the diaphanous white wall returns again and again and again. Giovanni is a product of crass, contemporary superficiality. Don Giovanni has been a staple role for baritone Thomas Hampson for nearly thirty years. Hampson's voice is certainly a tad more tattered now than it was in his youth, but this serves the still handsome actor quite well here, giving his Don an appropriate weariness. Hampson is known for his acting skills and his total conviction in this conception of Giovanni is a captivating high point amidst mixed results. Giovanni, as interpreted by Kusej and Hampson, is an existential figure, self-serving, and devouring others to enhance his own masturbatory pleasures. The sterility of that point might be seen in Giovanni's "Deh vieni." In the libretto, Giovanni serenades Elvira's maid at the window with a mandolin, but here, it is a solitary experience with Giovanni singing it alone, to no one, as the stage gradually blackens. It's a hauntingly subdued and memorable moment.
Commercial 21st century preoccupation with self-gratification and hollow sexuality is a not-so-subtle symbolic point, manifested by multiple appearances of nebulous, underwear clad glamour models (Kusej refers to them as Greek fertility goddesses). They strike ludicrous poses, arduously scrub floors and mechanically apply their lipstick with disturbing results. They reappear as flabby, old Wagnerian vamps (one step removed from joining George Romero's dead), and finally, revived and young again as monotonous dominatrices. Surprisingly, some critics felt it necessary to point out that the parading of the models was not erotic in the least. (Other critics compared it to the famous Robert Palmer video). The lack of eroticism seems to be an excruciatingly obvious intent.
At other points, characters periodically blindfold themselves, and each other, applying symbolic layer after symbolic layer after symbolic layer.
The interaction between Leporello and Giovanni at the imagined fantasy dinner is genuinely surprising and charming (earlier, their characters exchange recitatives). The Commendatore appears on an Orwellian screen in Hell as an arctic wasteland. Giovanni's descent is a gradual, stone-cold hardening of the arteries. Giovanni's life has been a masturbatory one (rape and murder being characteristics of that self-gratification) and this is equated with a finale of spiritual bankruptcy. On his path to damnation, his servant, Leporello, finally dispatches Giovanni.
These are all substantial, interpretive points that heighten the composer's contradictory, conflicting personality traits (the composer of Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte is also the composer of the "Great Mass in C minor").
Christine Schafer is quite good as Donna Anna, capturing the impetuous charisma of the heroine. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is not as vocally suited to Leporello as he was to his unique, Mediterranean Figaro. Isabel Bayrakdarian's buxom Zerlina , adorned in a tight, golden slip, is not only a scratched up, bruised victim to the Don, but, at one point she is even carried away by his army of listless mannequins. Later, as she comforts her wounded lover Masetto (Luca Pisaroni) she very clearly discovers that the way to comfort him lies between his legs. Malanie Diener as Donna Elvira is a considerable disappointment, both in her acting and singing.
Unfortunately, Daniel Harding's flaccid conducting of the Vienna Philharmonic even more seriously mars this production. Harding's direction falls far short of the insight needed for such a conceptual-minded production. Harding is clearly no Carlo Maria Giulini when it comes to his handling of Mozart's sensationally expressive language.
Ultimately, this Giovanni belongs to Hampson and Kusej.
*this is a slightly altered version of my review at 366 Weird Movies.
bastardize the intentions of the composer and the librettest! No matter!
It's best at times merely to close your eyes and listen to some of the
finest Mozart singing I've heard in a long time. In the title role,
Thomas Hampson as usual puts such thought and care into his work. The
voice has become even richer with age; and Christine Schafer may well be
the finest singing actress in the world today. Her Donna Anna is splendid
and vocally flawless. Kudos also to Melanie Diener as Donna Anna and to
Luca Pisaroni who turns the character part of Masetto into something deep.
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