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

Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the Barbican

Two great operas come from the year 1911 - Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and Bela Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. Both are masterpieces, but they are very different kinds of operas and experienced quite asymmetric performance histories.

Puccini’s Tosca at the Royal Opera House

Now on its ninth revival, Jonathan Kent’s classic Tosca for Covent Garden is a study in art, beauty and passion but also darkness, power and empire. Part of the production’s lasting greatness, and contemporary value, is that it looks inwards towards the malignancy of a great empire (in this case a Napoleonic one), whilst looking outward towards a city-nation in terminal decline (Rome).

ROH Announces 2018 Jette Parker Young Artists

The Royal Opera House has announced the five singers who will join the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in September, selected from more than 440 applicants from 59 countries.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with the Stuttgart one: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

ROH Return to the Roundhouse

Opera transcends time and place. An anonymous letter, printed with the libretto of Monteverdi’s Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia and written two years before his death, assures the reader that Monteverdi’s music will continue to affect and entrance future generations:

London Schools Symphony Orchestra celebrates Bernstein and Holst anniversaries

One recent survey suggested that in 1981, the average age of a classical concertgoer was 36, whereas now it is 60-plus. So, how pleasing it was to see the Barbican Centre foyers, cafes and the Hall itself crowded with young people, as members of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra prepared to perform with soprano Louise Alder and conductor Sir Richard Armstrong, in a well-balanced programme that culminated with an ‘anniversary’ performance of Holst’s The Planets.

Salome at the Royal Opera House

In De Profundis, his long epistle to ‘Dear Bosie’, Oscar Wilde speaks literally ‘from the depths’, incarcerated in his prison cell in Reading Gaol. As he challenges the young lover who has betrayed him and excoriates Society for its wrong and unjust laws, Wilde also subjects his own aesthetic ethos to some hard questioning, re-evaluating a life lived in avowal of the amorality of luxury and beauty.

In the Beginning ... Time Unwrapped at Kings Place

Epic, innovative and bold, Haydn’s The Creation epitomises the grandeur and spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

The Pearl Fishers at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its recent production of Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles Lyric Opera of Chicago assembled an ideal cast of performers who blend well into an imaginative and colorful production.

New Cinderella SRO in San Jose

Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella is most remarkable for one reason and one reason alone: It was composed by a 12-year old girl.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

La Cenerentola in Lyon

Like Stendhal when he first saw Rossini’s Cenerentola in Trieste in 1823, I was left stone cold by Rossini’s Cendrillon last night in Lyon. Stendhal complained that in Trieste nothing had been left to the imagination. As well, in Lyon nothing, absolutely nothing was left to the imagination.

Messiah, who?: The Academy of Ancient Music bring old and new voices together

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Messiah. And, at the Barbican Hall, the Academy of Ancient Music reminded us why … while never letting us settle into complacency.

The Golden Cockerel Bedazzles in Amsterdam

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s fairy tale The Golden Cockerel was this holiday season’s ZaterdagMatinee operatic treat at the Concertgebouw. There was real magic to this concert performance, chiefly thanks to Vasily Petrenko’s dazzling conducting and the enchanting soprano Venera Gimadieva.

Mahler Das Lied von der Erde, London - Rattle, O'Neill, Gerhaher

By pairing Mahler Das Lied von der Erde (Simon O'Neill, Christian Gerhaher) with Strauss Metamorphosen, Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra were making a truly powerful statement. The Barbican performance last night was no ordinary concert. This performance was extraordinary because it carried a message.

David McVicar's Rigoletto returns to the ROH

This was a rather disconcerting performance of David McVicar’s 2001 production of Rigoletto. Not only because of the portentous murkiness with which Paule Constable’s lighting shrouds designer Michael Vale’s ramshackle scaffolding; nor, the fact that stage and pit frequently seemed to be tugging in different directions. But also, because some of the cast seemed rather out of sorts.

Verdi Otello, Bergen - Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch

Verdi Otello livestream from Norway with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Garner with a superb cast, led by Stuart Skelton, Latonia Moore, and Lester Lynch and a good cast, with four choirs, the Bergen Philharmonic Chorus, the Edvard Grieg Kor, Collegiûm Mûsicûm Kor, the Bergen pikekor and Bergen guttekor (Children’s Choruses) with chorus master Håkon Matti Skrede. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1765, just a few years after the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra : Scandinavian musical culture has very strong roots, and is thriving still. Tucked away in the far north, Bergen may be a hidden treasure, but, as this performance proved, it's world class.

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):