Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni opera to libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. Directed 2011 by Göran Järvefelt at the Sidney Opera House. Stars Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Conal Coad, Rachelle Durkin, Daniel Sumegi, Henry Choo, Jacqueline Dark, Taryn Fiebig, and Andrew Jones. Mark Wigglesworth conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Concertmaster Aubrey Murphy) and the Australian Opera Chorus (Chorus Master Anthony Hunt). Designs by Carl Friedrich Oberle; lighting by Nigel Levings; rehearsed by Matthew Barclay; assistant direction by Johanna Puglisi; directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick; audio by Tony David Cray. Production Executive was Chris Yates; producer was Sam Russell. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A
The L'OperaDou Jury tried this title on July 14, 2012 and the verdict was the grade of "A." All but one member of the jury had seen DG at least once before (some many times). The jury found that Teddy Tahu Rhodes was the best Don Giovanni they had ever seen. He's handsome and thin with a decent six-pack (which you only see briefly). More important, he can act out an aura of malicious good humour that makes him a credible great seducer. All the other stars were excellent or at least decent in their roles. This is a straight-forward traditional production that doesn't take itself too seriously. Göran Järvefelt did a splendid job of blocking and directing so that every scene makes good sense---a trick task in an opera where something is always happening. And this show ends with a bang that will impress even the most jaded opera fan.
We now have 6 HDVDs of Don Giovanni, but none of them is graded A+. So there is still room for another try. Of the titles we have now, the old Gaumont motion picture has the most impressive production values, but the voices were dubbed and it doesn't play in Region A. Subject title from Opera Australia is probably the best choice for a traditional show shot on stage. I personally still prefer the whimsical show from René Jaocobs and Vincent Boussard on harmonia mundi. It has period music and a bunch of mostly young singers you never heard of having a wonderful time taking their crack at the greatest opera ever written. All the other versions are enjoyable but fall down in various ways.
When reviewing the Opera Australia Don Giovanni, I noticed the "shoe box" shape of the stage with the narrow end of the box facing the audience and the long side of the box receding to the rear of the stage. This configuration is different from most opera sets that take full advantage of the available width of the stage. I just finished viewing what we call the Mozart Masterpieces HDVD from EuroArts. That HDVD was made in the Estates Theater in Prague, where Mozart personally directed the premiere of Don Giovanni. According to information with the Mozart Masterpieces disc, the stage is now a replica of the stage as it appeared for the Don Giovanni premiere.
The Mozart Masterpieces disc has a large number of architectural shots of the interior of the Estates Theater and the stage. Sure enough: the front of the stage at this tiny venue is about 45 feet wide and is the narrow end of a rectangle about 75 feet deep. It's hard to believe that the great DG was originally presented in a space that holds only 228 seats in orchestra and 405 seats in the balconies! And now I see what director Järvefelt was up to with his Opera Australia set: he reproduced what Mozart had to work with at the beginning. This tactic was successful: Järvefelt was able to tell the story with great clarity on his oddly-shaped stage.
If you haven't visited the Estate Theater in Prague, you should get the Mozart Masterpieces HDVD even if just for the shots of the theater. The all-Mozart program is also pretty good.
Matthew Gurewitsch writes an amusing piece about the Australian DG at page 59 of the October 2012 Opera News. Gurewitch says, "But if the mic does Tahu Rhodes no favors, with the camera, it's love at first sight." Gurewitch has been around for a long time. He reveals that this production was premiered in 1991, and the walls still "come tumbling down like the chandelier in Phantom of the Opera, as they must."