Friday, 8 August 2014

W.A. Mozart, Don Giovanni - Salzburger Festspiele

Orchestral Main Rehearsal (24th July) & TV Broadcast (3rd August)

The first opera performance at this year's Salzburg Festival for me was the new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. It is the second part of Sven Erich Bechtolf's new Da Ponte cycle after last year's Cosi fan tutte, which had destroying reviews (both musically and the scenery). I have to say that I don't understand he bad comments about the production (except the musical part) for both operas. Bechtolf's Giovanni takes place in a hotel lobby in a dictatorship in the 20s of the last century in Spain. The staging (Rolf Glittenberg) is very elegant and classy and features a big symmetrical staircase in the middle and several doors on the first floor. The also very beautiful costumes of Marianne Glittenberg match to this set and create a very appealing atmosphere for Mozart's Casanova.
The main point of criticism concerns the conductor Christoph Eschenbach. He conducts very ungentle and rough without showing the beautiful parts of the magnificent score. This is probably the reason why next year's Le nozze di Figaro will be conducted by someone else.
Another big deficit is the female main protagonist: Lenneke Ruiten as Donna Anna. Originally Genia Kühmeier would have sung the role of Donna Anna, but had to cancel her performances due to family backgrounds. Lenneke Ruiten, who will be a part of the Stuttgart Opera Ensemble this autumn, is a very cheap and unsatisfactory replacement that does not even come close to the standards of the Festival. It is totally incomprehensible to me why she was casted for this role which calls for a strong lyric dramatic soprano. Her voice is very small, has an annoying shrill timbre and was covered by the orchestra very easily. She said herself in an interview that she is a very light lyric Donna Anna and she does not think that Mozart wanted a heavy soprano for the part ( ). I personally think that this shows how totally miscasted she was / is for this role. It is a shame that someone who obviously does not have a clue of what she is doing is given the chance to sing at our dignified Festival.
Nevertheless the rest of the cast was very good. 28 years old Anett Fritsch gives a very touching debut as Donna Elvira which she masters with a very beautiful and strong voice that delivers the drama of this second female protagonist perfectly. Her "Mi tradi quest'alma ingrata" was incredibly beautiful. Moreover she has a very lovely physique and we can hope that she will be singing in Salzburg more often now.
The third lady of the cast was Valentina Nafornita as the young Zerlina. She sang a very strong but still delicate Zerlina with smooth coloraturas and innocent timbre. Also her physique is very appealing, elegant and delicate.
Alessio Arduini sang Zerlina's jealous Husband Masetto and did a very good job here. He has a very warm baritone voice and played the jealous Masetto very convincing. He is on a very good way to sing the main role by himself one day, maybe even at the Festival. The British Andrew Staples played Don Ottavio and was weather good nor bad. His timbre might not be the most beautiful one, but he sang the role without any serious issues. Sometimes he sounds very nasal and pressed, but his overall performance was okay. A very good performance was given by Tomasz Konieczny as Il Commendatore. His Wagner-proved bass is perfect for this role and gave me goosebumps during the cemetery scene.
Luca Pisaroni as Leporello was one my favorites due to his enormously funny acting. He performs the comic role with a very clumsy and awkward style that created many funny scenes. His singing also was very convincing and he was a really worthy companion to the main role.
Don Giovanni, the demonic Casanova, was performed by the Italian bass Ildebrando d'Arcangelo who did a very very good job. He performes the incorrigible womanizer with finesse and a big voice. His athletic physique supported his character as well as his charming but treacherous singing. He surely was the best performer of the production and showed why he is one of the top singers of the present.
I liked the performance a lot and although the production might not be a very sophisticated one it delivers the story quite well and is beautiful to watch. I give the production 7 stars.
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