Tuesday 19 January 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Don Giovanni - Bayerische Staatsoper 

Performance 17th January 

Obviously neither Katja Haß’ scenery of the huge on top and next to each other laying containers whose front sides were opened for some scenes and showed different rooms nor Stephan Kimming’s staging that does not come up with a seminal concept made the evening memorable. Especially the idea of the old man signifying Don Giovanni somehow (his unsightly character?), who first appeared naked at the overture of the opera and accompanied the whole storyline, could not prove to be successful completely. Just the cooking scenery before the Komtur’s appearance seemed like a suitable basis for Don Giovanni’s and Leporello’s acting and the party scene at the end of the first act accidentally (the production was premiered in 2009) appeared as an entertaining advertising for the Bavarian State Opera’s upcoming premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s opera „South Pole“. After all the staging and scenery did not disturb the as much more pleasant music.
The bridal couple of Zerlina and Masetto fit together harmoniously and was cast by Eri Nakamura and Tareq Nazmi. As well as Nazmi sang his role of the jealous groom, Nakamura embodied the girl who always manages to placate her lover by erotic promises and her gentle singing credibly.
The pair of lovers of Donna Anna and Don Ottavio was wonderfully performed by Marina Rebeka and Dmitry Korchak. While Rebeka was singing the suffering girl that lost her father very convincing with her youthful soprano voice, Korchak enchanted the audience with his lightly lyric tenor and because of him arias like „dalla sua pace“ got real highlights of the evening.
The actual victim of Don Giovanni’s false promises and his cruel behaviour to women in this opera is Donna Elvira, who was performed by Véronique Gens, who conveyed the inner conflict of the role of being torn between her unselfish love and her craving for revenge to Don Giovanni very convincingly. Her particularly in the high register so radiant soprano voice was rewarded by huge cheering of the audience.
Alex Esposito’s performed a very funny Leporello and regarding the acting he probably delivered the greatest stage presence of the evening. Also his singing was equal to Schrott’s excellent Don Giovanni and so both were a great match as the master and his servant.
Maybe the Komtur’s role is one of the most difficult ones in the bass repertoire to deliver on the stage considering how famous the appearance of the killed father at the end of the second act is and how many different outstanding reference recordings there are. Anyway, Goran Jurić could live up to the huge expectations and even if he does not have the blackest voice, I did not miss any power in it during his big scene that begins by accepting Don Giovanni’s invitation: „Don Giovanni, a cenar teco / M’invitasti, e son venuto.“
This whole scene was just performed perfectly together with the two sovereign bass baritones and the sound was very balanced. You could clearly hear the opening inferno in the high strings of the orchestra and the loud tutti outbursts while Erwin Schrott obsessed about his part with an increasing intensity of his voice that culminated in the two incredibly thrilling performed shouts „No! No!“, that made very clear that this Don Giovanni will not repent in his this-worldly life. Erwin Schrott sang a superior Don Giovanni and managed to represent a seductive womanizer that is just as ruthless as violent to get what he wants. His acting embodied this immoral titular character brilliantly and with the strongest voice of the evening, he showed the audience an outrageously confident and fearless person, who would rather go to hell than regretting his sins.
Last but not least the Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera was conducted by James Gaffigan brightly nuanced and Gaffigan emphasized the spiritual abyss of the score. Especially at the Commendatore scene he rendered the inferno of the music, that finally taught Don Giovanni what fear was. While at some parts like these eliciting a massive sound, the orchestra never covered the singers and created a perfect foundation for the vocal soloists to perform.
Reviewed by Lukas Leipfinger