Don Giovanni (Skovhus)

Mozart Don Giovanni opera to libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte.  Directed 2010 by Dmitri Tcherniakov at the Festival d' Aix-in-Provence. Stars Bo Skovhus, Kyle Ketelsen, David Bizic, Colin Balzer, Marlis Petersen, Kristine Opolais, Kerstin Aveno, and Anatoli Kotscherga. Louis Langrée conducts the Freiburger Barockorchester and the English Voices. Costumes by Tcherniakov and Elena Zaitseva; lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky; directed for TV by Andy Sommer; produced by François Duplat. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Richard Lawrence slams director Dmitri Tcherniakov hard in a review of this Don Giovanni in the Awards 2013 Gramophone at page 107. Lawrence liked almost every aspect of this production except what appears to be wholesale revisions of the nature of the characters and their relationships as well as the settings and timing of events in the libretto. The result is, per Lawrence, a new opera with familiar music. But Mark Mandel defends the Tcherniakov rewriting of the story in the January 2014 Opera News at page 62! He concludes  "the acting is superb throughout the cast, the emotions plumbed are deep and disturbing, and the performance is riveting, compulsively watchable again and again."

We already have a number of traditional versions of Don Juan, so why not make the characters all related by blood or marriage and set them to lusting and feuding in one house like a Mexican TV soap opera? And I note that many of our traditional Don Juan casts are afflicted with women singers who are too old, drab, or fat to be tolerated. But no such problems here with the sex-pot trio of Petersen, Opolais, and Avemo threatening to burn up the hacienda. With girls like these to watch, who cares about the plot?

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