Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Don Giovanni - Landestheater Linz, Musiktheater

Premiere performance 21st January

My first opera in 2017 was a real classic by good old Mozart. Don Giovanni is probably one of the most famous operas and definitely a masterpiece by the famous prodigy from Salzburg. The Landestheater Linz created this new production under the direction of François De Carpentries who created a very dignified and intimate atmosphere for the plot. He sees Don Giovanni more as a libertine than just a nymphomanic casanova. His Don Giovanni is smart, witty and almost seems like a popstar, but also has a very dark and aggressive side. The concept also focused very much on the religious aspects of the story and featured monks and religious symbols several times. de Carpentries' approach was rather naturalistic, but also featured many abstract aspects that were supported by the costumes and the stage. Karine Van Hercke was responsible for both, costumes and stage, and I have to say it all looked stunning. Especially the stage created a very powerful and exciting atmosphere with the big stone cross in the middle of the stage and the big circle on the back wall (later also being used as the moon). There also were some minor properties around the cross, but you never had the feeling that there is too much stuff on the stage. I especially liked the symbolistic approach that involved many little details that supported the plot without distracting from the drama. Also the supporting dancers (choreography: Christina Comtesse) fitted into the overall concept very well and intensified the dramatic content of the story (especially during the famous descent to hell).
Due to the fact that the singer of Leporello (Dominik Nekel) had some sort of circulatory issues the performance had to be delayed for a bit and so we had the pleasure to get an exclusive introduction in the auditorium by the responsible dramaturg Magdalena Hoisbauer who gave the audience an overview about the piece and its context.
The evening was conducted by Enrico Calesso who showed a genuinely explosive interpretation of the score. Already the first few bars were extremely energetic and agitative without being brutal at all. Sometimes he chose very fast tempi but alltogether it was a balanced and well flowing performance. The Brucknerorchester Linz did a great job and sounded terrific. There was a wide range between dramatic outbursts and very intimate moments.
The performance of the ensemble was solid with some very good performances. Probably the most convincing performance was given by the you couple, Masetto and Zerlina. Till von Orlowsky sang the role with a beautiful sonorous baritone voice with a youthful timbre and Theresa Grabner has the ideal voice for Zerlina with her bright full lyric soprano voice. They also played convincingly and humorously.
The role of Il commendatore was performed by Nikolai Galkin with his imperious venerable bass voice. His rough dark timbre suited the role very well and created a tense atmosphere during the famous final scene. Donna Elvira was sung by Martha Hirschmann who did a good job with her flexible high mezzo voice. She sang it very beautifully with strong energy and passionate impulses. Only some of the topnotes seemed not totally comfortable, but she did very well anyway.
Iurie Ciobanu sang Don Ottavio with his powerful clear tenor with that elegant youthful timbre. His performance was noble, highly elegant and at the same time passionate and exciting. Don Ottavio has never been one of my favorites, but Ciobanu simply did a good job with it.
His fiancè, Donna Anna, was sung by Myung Joo Lee. Lee's voice is strong and very flexible and she sang very beautifully, even though her performance sounded more like a belcanto opera than Mozart. She managed the role without any difficulties, but her voice just did not really seem to suit the role in the end. I guess it is just a matter of style, but anyway, she gave a lovely performance.
Dominik Nekel, after his health issues in the beginning, gave a solid performance as Leporello. I would not have guessed that he did not feel well at all, because he sang and played vividly and gave a convincing performance. He only needed some time to get into the role in the beginning, but after a while he was in top form.
The title role was sung by Martin Achrainer who seemed to be the ideal choice vocally. He sang the role with ease and noble elegance. His virile baritone voice is flexible, agile and has the necessary dark timbre for this role. But not only musically, also acting-wise he gave a convincing performance as hunting casanova.
Alltogether it was a very entertaining evening with another great production at the Landestheater Linz. I think the new Don Giovanni is worth 8 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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