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

40 minutes with Barbara Hannigan...in rehearsal

One of the initiatives for the community at the Lucerne Festival is the ‘40 min’ series. A free concert given before the evening’s main event that ranges from chamber music to orchestral rehearsals.

Prom 54 - Mozart's Last Year with the Budapest Festival Orchestra

The mysteries and myths surrounding Mozart’s Requiem Mass - left unfinished at his death and completed by his pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr - abide, reinvigorated and prolonged by Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus as directed on film by Miloš Forman. The origins of the work’s commission and composition remain unknown but in our collective cultural and musical consciousness the Requiem has come to assume an autobiographical role: as if Mozart was composing a mass for his own presaged death.

High Voltage Tosca in Cologne

I saw two operas consecutively at Oper Koln. First, the utterly bewildering Lucia di Lammermoor; then Thilo Reinhardt’s thrilling Tosca. His staging was pure operatic joy with some Hitchcockian provocations.

Haitink at the Lucerne Festival

Bernard Haitink’s monumental Bruckner and Mahler performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) got me hooked on classical music. His legendary performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C-minor, where in the Finale loosened plaster fell from the Concertgebouw ceiling, is still recounted in Amsterdam.

BBC Prom 45 - Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Karita Mattila was born to sing Emilia Marty, the diva around whom revolves Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair (Věc Makropulos). At Prom 45, she shone all the more because she was conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and performed alongside a superb cast from the National Theatre, Prague, probably the finest and most idiomatic exponents of this repertoire.

Two Tales of Offenbach: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

‘Two outrageous operas in one crazy evening,’ reads the bill. Hyperbole? Certainly not when the operas are two of Jacques Offenbach’s more off-the-wall bouffoneries and when the company is Opera della Luna whose artistic director, Jeff Clarke, is blessed with the comic imagination and theatrical nous to turn even the most vacuous trivia into a sharp and sassy riotous romp.

Britten Untamed! Glyndebourne: A Midsummer Night's Dream

This performance of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne was so good that it was the highlight of the whole season, making the term ‘revival’ utterly irrelevant. Jakub Hrůša is always stimulating, but on this occasion, his conducting was so inspired that I found myself closing my eyes in order to concentrate on what he revealed in Britten's quirky but brilliant score. Eyes closed in this famous production by Peter Hall, first seen in 1981?

Salzburg encores

A staged piano recital and an opera as a concert.  Pianist András Schiff accompanied the Salzburg Marionette Theater at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal and Anna Netrebko sang Manon Lescaut at the Grosses Festspielhaus.

Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

On August 4, 2016, soprano Leah Crocetto and accompanist Tamara Sanikidze gave a recital at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe New Mexico. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, this year Crocetto was singing Donna Anna in Santa Fe Opera’s excellent Don Giovanni.

Angela Meade at Sante Fe

On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Turco in Italia in Pesaro

When more is definitely more, and less would indeed be less. Two of the biggest names in Italian theater art collide in an eponymous theater.

Proms Chamber Music 5: Shakespeare at 400

It was the fifth Proms Chamber Music concert at Cadogan Hall this season, and we were celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th. And, given the extent and range of the composers and artists, and the diversity and profundity of the musical achievement inspired by the Bard, we could probably keep celebrating in this fashion ad infinitum.

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This highly enjoyable Prom, part of 2016’s ‘Proms at …’ mini-series, took as its guiding concept the reopening of London’s theatres following the Restoration, focusing in particular upon musical and dramatic responses to Shakespeare. Purcell, rightly, loomed large, with John Blow and Matthew Locke joining him. Receiving their Proms premieres were the excerpts from Timon of Athens and those from Locke’s The Tempest.

Santa Fe: Straussian Sweet Nothings

With all the bombast of the presidential campaigns rattling in our heads, with invectives being exchanged and measured discussion all but absent, how utterly lovely to retreat and relax into the harmonious soundscape and well-reasoned debate posed in Strauss’ Capriccio, on magnificent display at Santa Fe Opera.

Santa Fe’s Civil War Gounod

When we entered the Crosby Theatre for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette the stage was surprisingly dominated by a somber, semi-circular black mausoleum, many chambers inscribed with scrambled names of US Civil War era dead.

Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert

Molten passions were seething just below the icy Nordic exterior of Santa Fe Opera’s wholly masterful production of Barber’s Vanessa.

Le Comte Ory, Seattle

Farce is probably the most difficult of dramatic comedy sub-genres to put across. A farce got up in the stately robes of opera sets its presenters an even higher bar. Presenting an operatic farce on a notoriously chilly and cavernous auditorium is to risk catastrophe.

Racette’s Golden Girl in New Mexico

Fan interest began raging when Santa Fe Opera engaged venerable artist Patricia Racette to make her role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

Santa Fe’s Mozart Cast Sweeps All Before It

A funny thing happened on the way to Andalusia.

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):