31 August 2012 | TheLittleSongbird
Watchable but uneven and rather drab
Don Giovanni is one of my favourite operas ever, so naturally I'd see any production of any of my favourites regardless of whether it's considered good or bad. This Don Giovanni from Glyndebourne is watchable, certainly better than the recent La Scala production, but it will never be one of my favourite Don Giovannis.
It certainly has its good points. The orchestral playing is not the most passionate reading of this score but it is both smooth and stylish. Vladmir Jurowski's conducting does have fire and involvement. There is a very tender scene between Masetto and Zerlina also. Anna Samuil is excellent as Donna Anna, sympathetic, vengeful and fiery, and Anna Virovlansky's Zerlina is warm and adorable. A Don Giovanni production wins or fails on the strength of the leading role. Gerald Finley is not one of my favourite Dons, but he has a wonderful voice and is both seductive and arrogant. He is at his best in his tender rendition of his Act 1 serenade and in the duet La Ci Darem La Manno. I did think though that the Champagne Aria lacked fizz.
On the other hand, the costumes and sets seemed rather drab for my tastes, and the staging seems to be going through the motions with little of the darkness, passion or comic timing of the opera. The final Commendatore scene is no exception, but in a different sort of way. The scene should be terrifying, but it just seemed overdone here, almost reading like a spoof of Night of the Living Dead. Ottavio is sung well but not very involved and Masetto also handsomely sung but with not enough jealousy or anger. Kate Royal does what she can with the vocal demands, she does have a pretty and bright voice but I did get the sense that the role was too big for her and she is rather bland dramatically. Luca Pisaroni sings wonderfully with a winning Catalogo aria, but he doesn't bring out the humour of the role, coming across as too casual and loyal. Alistair Miles' voice lacks resonance coming across as dry and underpowered and he just doesn't intimidate.
All in all, rather drab visually with an uneven cast, but musically it is good and a couple of performances are really good. 5/10 Bethany Cox