Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Don Giovanni – Zurich 2006 (Part 1: The Music and The Mirror)

After reading the Earworm's recent review(s) of this performance, I decided watch it again. The first time (seems like ages ago, but was only a few months), I had trouble finding a way into the director's concept. I just didn't care that much. It's still not a top favorite Don Giovanni, but I like it better and I understand more of it now.
This time around, I noticed that Simon Keenlyside portrays Don Giovanni as an impish prankster. Except for killing the Commendatore, which looks accidental, he takes life pretty lightly. Having a fun time, he thinks he's pretty cute and irresistible. He's his own biggest fan, and he is continually perplexed that everyone else doesn't find him as cute as he does. He manages to seduce (not necessarily sexually) women and men alike. His charm allows him to BS his way through life. Fortunately Simon Keenlyside has the charm to carry this off. And the voice. And the good looks. Yes, OK, I am a big Keenlyside fan! Giovanni is not the only source of humor here. There other giggle-inducing bits (but no real thigh-slapping laughs. This is Mozart, not Modern Family.)

There are a lot of supernumeraries mixed in with the chorus. I interpret all the extra people in this production as extensions or expressions of the main characters, or perhaps of the universality of the situations. And they're reflected infinitely in the clever series of mirrors. Not necessarily in mirror image, either. 

The opening tableau: Hall of Mirrors
When a singer is facing front, so is the reflection. It's either magic, or I missed something in science class. Sometimes when a character enters, it's difficult to tell where the real person is, as you can see at least two more of them somewhere else on stage. Although I believe there literally were three Commendatores near the start of Act 2. There are lots of draperies/curtains too. They close not so much for scene changes, but when Giovanni is scheming to trick and deceive the others. And he is not the only one the curtains isolate; but they rarely open or close for any literal reason. 

There are a lot of nice touches here. The musicians for the party at the end of Act 1 appear and play onstage. After Zerlina's lap dance (Vedrai carino, in a silky teddy) for Masetto, they disappear behind the sofa. At the same time, Elvira and Leoprello appear from behind another sofa. The mirrors almost create the illusion that Elvira and Zerlina are the same woman. (hmmmm...) When they catch Leporello posing as Giovanni, and Elvira realizes she just did "it" with him, she first looks disgusted, then physically ill, then in a total state of shock. Could this be what finally unhinged her completely?

I may or may not answer that question tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's is Zerlina's lap dance:
Martina Jankova sings Vedrai carino.

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