Don Giovanni @ the Opernhaus Zürich

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Fountains of ink have been spilled on Don Giovanni, philosophers even have, like Einstein, or Kierkegaard. The music defined as heavenly. But nothing seems to touch the director or this setting, Sebastian Baumgarten. If I understand his concept, it describes a group of religious actors, who perform a play around the licentiousness of Don Giovanni, which eventually leads to a moralizing end by heavenly and Christian righteousness. This all takes place in a church (a wink to Don Giovanni’s creator padre Tirso de Molina?) with 40’s design. The revolving stage brings different props and objects on to the stage, a bath tub, fountains, a facade (of the church?), the graveyard where Anna’s father is buried and who resuscitates at the end of the first act, a bed where Don Giovanni sacrifices a girl (with squirting blood….I tutted in utter disapproval).

All this accompanied by a big screen, describing Don Giovanni’s deeds by means of the deadly sins (as if one would not understand, we are not complete idiots, but thanks anyway…). All looks regurgitated and one doesn’t know whether to accept all this turning eyes to heaven, or to be annoyed by the flat, superficial and distasteful interpretation and the hideous staging. With all the blatant demonstration of eroticism Baugartner completely ignores the underlying, and often not so subtle eroticism of Da Ponte’s libretto.

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Robin Ticciati, the musical director supposed to direct all performances, walked out of the production after the first night (as the Operahaus Zurich tells us) as he could not support Baumgarten’s interpretation (although one wonders why he did not leave earlier…did he not see the rehearsals??). Fabio Luisi directed instead and kept a high musical level throughout the evening. The orchestra della scintilla has a dry sound (which i like, but where there some unpitched notes??) and played correctly.

The singing part on the other hand was very good, almost excellent. The overall quality of the singers was very high so that the group effort makes one overlook the (small) flaws of the single singers. Excellent, I thought, was Pavol Breslik and for once I enjoyed both of Ottavio’s aria’s. Julia Kleitner’s Elvira sings with a warm and full middle register. Peter Mattei as Don Giovanni, Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ruben Drole as Leporello all sang well.

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For my part I will remember the full bodied voice of Anna Goryachova (although I had bad memories of her Marchesa Melibea in the Viaggio a Reims and her Edoardo in Mathilde di Shabran, both in Pesaro). I am not sure she a soprano as Zerlina would require but her legs are quite beautiful 🙂 (as are Don Ottavio’s – aka hunk Pavol Breslik – as can be seen in his first entrace, dressed in a revealing purple bodysuit).

An preview can be seen on the Opernhaus’ webpage: http://www.opernhaus.ch/vorstellung/detail/don-giovanni-26-05-2013/#section_videos

Musikalische Leitung-Fabio Luisi, Inszenierung-Sebastian Baumgarten, Bühnenbild-Barbara Ehnes, Kostüme-Tabea Braun, Lichtgestaltung-Franck Evin, Choreografie-Chris Kondek, Don Giovanni-Peter Mattei, Donna Anna-Marina Rebeka, Don Ottavio-Pavol Breslik, Komtur-Rafal Siwek, Donna Elvira-Julia Kleiter, Leporello-Ruben Drole, Zerlina-Anna Goryachova, Masetto-Erik Anstime

Zürich, 9/6/13

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