Thursday, 29 November 2007

Don Giovanni

I have not even begun to describe the numerous performances, of variable quality, that I attended while in Shanghai and Beijing, some ambitious (a 70,000 seat arena star-filled presentation of Dream of Red Chambers, in a cold wind), some delightful (a small circus production called ERA), some predictable (another star-filled arena variety show of classical music, aria, ballet, modern dance, choral and orchestral performers raising funds for the 2010 World Expo), and some simply awful (a strange fantasy with an on-stage waterfall near an amusement park in the suburbs of Beijing), plus many others.
Yet none were as enjoyable as last night's production of Don Giovanni at the Los Angeles Opera. True to Mozart's intention to present the incorrigible libertine as a dramma giocoso - a funny drama - Erwin Schrott was a charismatic and riveting Don Juan, while Kyle Ketelsen's Leporello, the Don's comic and unwilling manservant, stole all the rest of the scenes.
I first saw this bold production, played out in a minimalist black box, fully expecting to hate it, at its debut in 2003, but the outrageousness of the costume design, the commedia frivolity of the staging, and the designer-brand spareness of the set suits the subject perfectly, and seeing it again four years later reminded me how even a tired story (for I saw Thomas Shadwell's 1675 summer production of the The Libertine, itself based on earlier Spanish plays) can be made fresh by an unrestrained designer and a lusty cast.
I have not said how well they sang, but that is because I could never hold a tune myself, and do not present myself as any judge of others. To my deafened ear it resonated magnificent, but all music is just dressing for what I see on stage.

2 comments:

Osprey said...

Mmmmmm, opera. Highest form of collaborative art, indeed.

John Hupp said...

I must get season tickets at the Music Center!

The view from my window takes in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but for whatever reason I have restrained myself.

~Pablo