[Met Performance] CID:350919
New Production
Don Giovanni {476} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/01/2004.

(Debuts: Ildar Abdrazakov, Marthe Keller, Christine Rabot-Pinson, Blanca Li

Metropolitan Opera House
March 1, 2004
New Production

Mozart-Da Ponte

Don Giovanni............Thomas Hampson
Donna Anna..............Anja Harteros
Don Ottavio.............Gregory Turay
Donna Elvira............Christine Goerke
Leporello...............René Pape
Zerlina.................Hei-Kyung Hong
Masetto.................Ildar Abdrazakov [Debut]
Commendatore............Phillip Ens

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Marthe Keller [Debut]
Set Designer............Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer........Christine Rabot-Pinson [Debut]
Lighting Designer.......Jean Kalman
Choreographer...........Blanca Li [Debut]

Don Giovanni received fifteen performances this season.

Production gift of Julian and Josie Robertson, Robertson Foundation and John Van Meter.

Additional production gifts from The Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, Miami, Florida, The Annenberg Foundation, Karen and Kevin Kennedy, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul M. Montrone.

Production photos of Don Giovanni by Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera.

Review of John W. Freeman in the May 2004 issue of OPERA NEWS

In the Met's New "Don Giovanni" Thomas Hampson wore a façade of nobility as casually as his long white scarf.

The Met's new "Don Giovanni," introduced March 1, goes back to basics. Michael Yeargan's adjustable unit set, composed of tall, sliding brick walls, has a simple architectural grandeur reminiscent of the ruins of the Roman Colosseum. Defining the narrow streets of Seville or the walls of the Don's castle, both inside and out, these massive panels move apart for an equally simple openness in the outdoor scenes. The overall feeling, however, is dark and oppressive. The staircase of the first scene looks like a fire escape, and the distant trees in the countryside scene are so faintly projected as to be almost invisible.

The stage director, Swiss-born actress Marthe Keller, stays fairly close to the libretto, though she goes for a few odd variations, such as having Giovanni appear without a mask in the [first] scene and kill the Commendatore by treachery. She sees the female characters as animating the Don's behavior, quite as much as the other way around. In particular, Christine Goerke's Donna Elvira, a virago in the Alcina/Armida vein, stood up to Giovanni, bringing out the ruthlessness he concealed more carefully with Anja Harteros's impetuous, strong-minded Donna Anna, whom he kissed cavalierly on the cheek, triggering her recognition of him as her attempted seducer. Hei-Kyung Hong's Zerlina used innate sweetness to overcome stereotype as the usual pert soubrette.

Though her lyric soprano isn't large, Hong sang forthrightly, while Harteros and Goerke, given bigger voices, often spoke their minds loud and clear, as did René Pape in his [beginning] moments and catalogue aria. Pape made Leporello the central character, like that of Figaro in "Le Nozze," his practicality drawing the others into cohesive patterns. Nimble in footwork and repartee, with a bass voice rich in shadings and power, Pape constantly challenged and counterbalanced the libidinous ego of his master. Thomas Hampson's Don wore a facade of nobility as casually as his long white scarf. If Hampson's singing showed a little more effort than his manner, it suited this man who, with such a list of conquests, is starting to tire of them: he's seen it all before. Likewise, if a stretch of coloratura here or there led Elvira and Anna off the pitch, it seemed only natural for their emotions to overpower their control. In a theater as large as the Met, it took a dramatic soprano as generous and assertive as Goerke's to make clear the manic purpose that drives Elvira. With febrile temperament, Harteros painted the self-dramatizing Anna in bold strokes, her passions as strong as her inhibitions.

As Don Ottavio, Gregory Turay served Anna with the steadiness and reliability she needed. The tenor's sound, if neither particularly sweet nor dramatic, showed clarity of tone and definition, giving both his arias poise and shapeliness. He acted with a touching mixture of wanting to do the right thing and not always being sure what that would be, given Anna's imperious, flighty nature. As for Zerlina's fiancé, Hong was fortunate in the earthy Masetto of Ildar Abdrazadov, a Met debutant. Whether facing off with Giovanni or nursing an angry hangover outside the castle, this no-nonsense bass came across as a real, hulking "contadino" and a quick pushover for Hong's blandishments.

The Commendatore, sung with dignity by Phillip Ens, suffered from having his voice marginalized in the wings in later scenes. In the graveyard, the statue lies atop its coffin, unable to confront the Don or nod "yes" when invited to dinner. It arrives at the castle in a glass-doored elevator that will escort the Don to hell. The point is made: the world beyond is seen as through a glass, darkly. But no one yet has devised a coup de théâtre to match the ghostly Stone Guest, stomping in to yank the dissolute Don across the divide.

Costumes, by Christine Rabot-Pinson in her Met debut, basically reflected Mozart's period and its class distinctions. Blanca Li, also in her Met debut, contributed apt choreographic movement. Still, the streets of Seville seemed oddly empty, despite a few amorous and/or inebriated peasants lolling about. James Levine shaped the score with his usual invigorating Mozartean light, supportively invigorating touch.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).