Don Giovanni (Weisser)

 

Mozart Don Giovanni opera to libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte.  Directed 2006 by Vincent Boussard at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus. Stars Johanes Weisser (Don Giovanni), Marcos Fink (Leporello), Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Donna Elvira), Werner Güra (Don Ottavio), Malin Byström, (Donna Anna), Sunhae Im (Zerlina), Nikolay Borchev (Masetto), and Alessandro Guerzoni (Commendatore). René Jacobs conducts the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Insbruck Festival Chorus. Designs by Vincent Lemaire; costumes by Christian Lacroix; lighting by Alain Poisson; directed for TV by Georg Wübbolt. Released 2008, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

This show presents Don John as a big kid in a candy store. The young, attractive cast is refreshing, and all of them have had flourishing careers since 2006. This was a relatively low budget production with one really nice set plus whimsical costumes and props.  The directing is successful at bringing out the humor in the work without being silly. René Jacobs keeps the Freiburger Barockorchester relentlessly moving forward with the raw sound period instruments. SQ, PQ, and video content are pretty good throughout. The screenshots below tend to look a bit dark, but this is no problem when shown in the HT.

The insatiable Giovanni (Johanes Weisser) briefs his servant Leporello (Marcos Fink), on his next conquest:

Leporello is forever complaining:

But this time Giovanni tries an assault instead of a seduction, and the adventure turns sour when Donna Anna (Malin Byström) cries out for help from her father, the Commendatore (Alessandro Guerzoni). Don Giovanni kills the Commendatore; here Donna Anna and her fiancé Don Ottavio (Werner Güra) try in vain to help:

We have just seen Giovanni's first murder. He is all but out of control now, and his end is near. But Donna Elvira (Alexandrina Pendatchanska) loves him so much that she will never give up.  Suddenly their paths cross; now Elvira will stay on Giovanni's case for the short rest of his life:

Leporello tells Elvira about the many hundreds of Giovanni's seductions all across Europe. In this production there's no book; the names of the seduced are written out in the heavens:

Giovanni stumbles onto a wedding party of peasants. Our hero carries a noble's sword; but he is perfectly democratic and would not discriminate against a pretty girl just because she is a farmer's daughter. Nor would he turn down a girl just because she's getting married the next day. Here the bride Zerlina (Sunhae Im) is celebrating with her fiancé Masetto (Nikolay Borchev):

Don Giovanni crashes the wedding party and carries Zerlina away to his estate promising marriage. But after the murder of the Commendatore, Giovanni will never have another success with a women. Elvira interrupts his tryst with Zerlina and just manages to save the peasant girl from disgrace:

Next Don Giovanni happens to meet Donna Anna on the street, and he is quick to take advantage of that!  But you can see from the look on her face that Anna is wondering, "Why does this voice sound so familiar?" Soon she realizes that she has found the murderer of her father:

Increasingly frustrated, John throws a party at his mansion. He orders Leporello to procure girls:

Donna Anna, Ottavio, and Elvira crash the party in masquerade:

The noose of fate is tightening around John's neck:

But, defiant and wary, he escapes from the trap:

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More misadventures, this time with Elvira's maid:

Don Giovanni beats up Masetto, who is comforted by the always irresistible Zerlina (this image looks great as my current wallpaper on PC "Breakneck2"):

Totally exasperated with his run of bad luck, Don Giovanni throws a banquet for himself in a restaurant on the  square. Surely he can sate himself for desert with some of the serving girls. But even this banal plan fails:

Elvira makes her brave last pitch and is cruelly mocked (this pic is my current wallpaper on PC "Hotrod3"):

And then an unexpected guest arrives: there is a statue of the Commendatore on the square, and the statue comes walking in:

Giovanni is swallowed up by Hell, thereby depriving the poor serving girls of the tips they expected:

And here's the moral of the story:

Don Giovanni is considered by many experts to be the best opera ever written. This production shows why with it's incredible succession of musical numbers of the highest quality and complexity. It's hard to demonstrate on the stage why Don Giovanni was so good with the girls: the infectious enthusiasm and charm of Johanes Weisser is as good a stab at this as any any we have in HDVD. My favorite character in this is, however, Sunhae Im as Zerlina---you could justify buying the disc just to see how delicious she in this. Marcos Fink is a masterful Leporello, and all the other singers at are also fine with the possible exception of Malin Byström as Donna Anna, who is a good actress but was maybe having trouble with her voice as this was recorded. 

This version gets more laughs by far than any other Don Giovanni in HDVD, so it's still one of my favorites.I originally gave this an "A" grade, but I've reduced this to "B+" because there is no famous star and I think too much of the action happens in front of the curtain due to the limitations of the single set.