Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

In Parenthesis, Welsh National Opera in London

‘A century after the Somme, who still stands with Britain?’ So read a headline in yesterday’s Evening Standard on the eve of the centenary of the first day of that battle which, 141 days later, would grind to a halt with 1,200,000 British, French, German and Allied soldiers dead or injured.

Die Walküre, Opera North

A day is now a very long time indeed in politics; would that it were otherwise. It certainly is in the Ring, as we move forward a generation to Die Walküre.

Early Gluck arias at the Wigmore Hall

If composers had to be categorised as either conservatives or radicals, Christoph Willibald Gluck would undoubtedly be in the revolutionary camp, lauded for banishing display, artifice and incoherence from opera and restoring simplicity and dramatic naturalness in his ‘reform’ operas.

Das Rheingold, Opera North

Das Rheingold is, of course, the reddest in tooth and claw of all Wagner’s dramas - which is saying something.

Peter Grimes in Princeton

The Princeton Festival presents one opera annually, amidst other events. Its offerings usually alternate annually between 20th century and earlier operas. This year the Festival presented Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, now a classic work, in a very effective and moving production.

Scintillating Strauss in Saint Louis

If you like your Ariadne on Naxos productions as playful as a box of puppies, then Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is the address for you.

Saint Louis Takes On ‘The Scottish Opera’

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis took forty years before attempting Verdi’s Macbeth but judging by the excellence of the current production, it was well worth the wait.

Anatomy Theater: A Most Unusual New Opera

On June 16, 2016, Los Angeles Opera with Beth Morrison Projects presented the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang's Anatomy Theater at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT).

Shalimar in St. Louis: Pagliaccio Non Son

In its compact forty-year history, the ambitious Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has just triumphantly presented its twenty-fifth world premiere with Shalimar the Clown.

Jenůfa, ENO

The sharp angles and oddly tilting perspectives of Charles Edwards’ set for David Alden’s production of Jenůfa at ENO suggest a community resting precariously on the security and certainty of its customs, soon to slide from this precipice into social and moral anarchy.

The “Other” Marriage of Figaro in a West Village Townhouse

Last week an audience of 50 assembled in the kitchen of a luxurious West Village townhouse for a performance of Marriage of Figaro.

West Wind: A new song-cycle by Sally Beamish

In a recent article in BBC Music Magazine tenor James Gilchrist reflected on the reason why early-nineteenth-century England produced no corpus of art song to match the German lieder of Schumann, Schubert and others, despite the great flowering of English Romantic poetry during this period.

Florencia en el Amazonas, NYCO

With the New York Premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, the New York City Opera Steps Out of the Shadows of the Past

Idomeneo, re di Creta, Garsington

Opportunities to see Idomeneo are not so frequent as they might be, certainly not so frequent as they should be.

Don Carlo in San Francisco

Not merely Don Carlo, but the five-act Don Carlo in the 1886 Modena version! The welcomed esotericism of San Francisco Opera’s extraordinary spring season.

Jenůfa in San Francisco

The early summer San Francisco Opera season has the feel of a classy festival. There is an introduction of Spanish director Calixto Bieito to American audiences, a five-act Don Carlo and two awaited, inevitable role debuts, Karita Mattila as Kostelnička and Malin Bystrom as Janacek's Jenůfa.

Musings on the “American Ring

Now that the curtain has long fallen on the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Washington National Opera (WNO), it is safe to say that the long-anticipated production has been an unqualified success for the company, director Francesca Zambello, and conductor Philippe Auguin.

Nabucco, Covent Garden

Most of the attention during this revival of Daniele Abbado’s 2013 production of Nabucco has been directed at Plácido Domingo’s reprise of the title role, with the critical reception somewhat mixed.

Tristan, English National Opera

My first Tristan, indeed my first Wagner, in the theatre was ENO’s previous staging of the work, twenty years ago, in 1996. The experience, as it should, as it must, although this is alas far from a given, quite overwhelmed me.

The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne

Four years ago, almost to the day (13th to 12th), I saw Melly Still’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen during its first Glyndebourne run. I found myself surprised how much more warmly I responded to it this time.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni
16 Mar 2008

MOZART: Don Giovanni

This an intriguing two-disc DVD set. The primary disc is the opera itself, while the other disc is a film called “Adieu Mozart” that tells us about the unique relationship Mozart had with the City of Prague.

W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni (Andrei Beschasny), Il Commendatore (Dalibor Jedlicka), Donna Anna (Nadezhda Petrenko), Don Ottavio (Vladimír Dolezal), Donna Elvira (Jirina Marková), Leporello (Ludek Vele), Masetto (Zdenek Harvánek), Zerlina (Alice Randová), Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras (cond.)
Live on 1 December 1991 at the Estates Theatre, Prague

Supraphon SU 7012-9 [2DVDs]

$29.99  Click to buy

The setting for the opera is The Estates Theater in Prague. It existed in Mozart’s time where he conducted two world premieres — Don Giovanni and Clemenza di Tito. Between 1983 and 1991, the theater was reconstructed to look just as it did in Mozart’s time.

The opera as we see it on the DVD’s is a film of the first opera performed in the reconstructed theater. There is an interesting aspect of the film of the opera production that seeks to connect the present production to the past and vice versa. In a day where we see opera houses and directors looking to update and to be more innovative with traditional operas, there is still another way of touching the audience with the historic and respected works of this master composer.

The first scenes of the film are of Andrei Beschasny, who is our Don Giovanni, walking to the opera house through the cobblestone streets of Prague. He is wearing a navy blue jogging suit and white tennis shoes and has an apple in his hand. The first scenes of the opera, following the overture, show Beschasny in full makeup entering the stage from the rear and the action then begins. We have made the transition from now to then.

For the next two and a half hours I was thoroughly entertained by a well-done production of the opera with all the lush period costumes and sets that might have been similar to what Mozart himself used. In the scene where the Commendatore ( sung by Dalibor Jedlicka) interrupts the liaison between the Don and Donna Anna we see a shirtless Don who is indignant at having his pleasure cut short. The death scene continues as he struggles into his red shirt and then kills the Commendatore.

Ludek Vele is an amazing Leporello. I hasten to mention here that I am not familiar with any of the singers so this was an adventure in listening to them and having no preconceived ideas of what they should sound like. But, back to Vele. He has a nice baritone voice, a bit more rugged sounding than that of Beschasny, which works well. He is a convincing actor who leaves no doubt about his conflicted relationship with his master.

Nedezhda Petrenko is Donna Anna. This is a soprano with a voice that can go shrill at times but is not unpleasant to listen to for the most part. She had a good grasp of the role. Shock at first when her father is killed and then determined to bring down the perpetrator. Ottavio and Elvira sung by Vladimir Dolezal and Jirina Markova, respectively, made a good couple. Markova is a passionate singer who I found engaging.

If there was, in my opinion, a weak link among the singers it was with Zerlina and Masetto ( Zdenek Harvanek and Alice Randova). There did not seem to be a good “connection” between these two and until the very end I thought they were singing “at” one another rather than “to” one another.

The banquet scene, always a highlight for me in Don Giovanni, was exquisitely done. The opulence of the Don’s palace was all there and the tables were laden with food. The production does a very good job of showing how the mood of the people changes from the beginning of the scene when they are all in “banquet” mood until the end when the Don has to escape.

But as we all know Don Giovanni is not to be deterred from his need to conquer even more women and add to his “catalogue”. The opera proceeds with great skill and lots of good emotional singing until its inevitable end. Anyone watching this production cannot help be intrigued by the timeliness of this old opera and its relevance to today’s audiences. Mozart was the rarest of men…one who gave us his very soul in his legacy of music.

Cheryl Dowden

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):