16 July 2011 | TheLittleSongbird
Very enjoyable if imperfect
I have always been a big fan of Mozart's music, and Don Giovanni is one of my favourites of his. It has a very dramatic and complex story, Don Giovanni himself is one of the most memorable and compelling titular characters of any opera and I cannot get enough of the Overture and the Commendatore scene.
This Don Giovanni is very enjoyable, though my favourite Don Giovannis are the 1979 Joseph Losey film, the 1987 production with Karajan conducting and the 1990 Met production. There are many things to like about this La Scala production, the story still has its complexity, drama and heart, while the orchestra play with vigour and Riccardo Muti's conducting is controlled yet very exciting.
The costumes and sets are lovely without being too fancy and traditional-looking, the lighting has an autumnal and evergreen feeling to it and there is some excellent video directing. And I for one loved the staging of the Commendatore scene.
The performances in general are superb, my favourites being Thomas Allen's outstanding Don Giovanni, Suzanne Mentzer's beautifully voiced and lively Zerlina, Ann Murray's lush and spiteful Elvira and Claudio Desderi's ambivalent Leporello. I loved the subtlety also of Natale De Carolis as Masetto and Sergey Koptchak's interesting and very effective Commendatore.
If there are any let downs of an otherwise very good production, it is two performances that didn't quite work- Edita Gruberova as Donna Anna and Francisco Araiza as Ottavio. Gruberova I do like, and while she does get better later on, her voice sounds fatigued to start with and her acting despite attempts to make a mature Donna Anna is sometimes monotonous. Araiza makes a great sound, but is very wooden on stage.
All in all though, this is very enjoyable. 8/10 Bethany Cox