Don Giovanni has always been one of my favourite operas of all time, with the magnificent music and one of the most vivid titular characters in all of opera. Of the productions I've seen, the best I've seen are the 1979 Joseph Losey film, the 1987 production with Samuel Ramey, the 2000 production with Bryn Terfel and the 1990 performance again with Ramey.So far the 2006 production with Thomas Hampson has been my least favourite, still good but has the most inept staging of the Commendatore scene than any other Don Giovanni I've seen.
This Glyndebourne performance is mostly good, but in some other aspects it could have been better. I'll start with the many good things. The costumes are beautiful, and the sets while quite rustic are well above serviceable. The camera work is very focused most of the time, and the picture quality is clear. Sound is also fine, though the lighting at times is a little too dark for my tastes.
The orchestra play the dark, complex yet magnificent score to perfection, and Bernard Haitink proves here to be a good Mozartean. The stage direction is clever and all in good taste, the final scene does have the terrifying feeling it should. Of the cast, which I found uneven, the best are Stafford Dean who is cast perfectly as Leporello and Elizabeth Gale's adorable Zerlina. John Rawnsley is also very good as he always is as Massetto, and Pierre Thau does bring a command and terror to the Commendatore.
Benjamin Luxon I do like, I loved him in Le Nozze Di Figaro and Falstaff, but while his singing is compelling and stylish, I don't think he brought out the complexities of Don Giovanni as well as I thought he would do, lacking the sex appeal, charm and devilish quality of the character. His acting is good if never what I consider exciting, he is splendid in the Commendatore scene and Deh Vieni Al Finestrea but the Champagne aria to me seemed forced and stolid.
He isn't the only disappointment though. Rachel Yakkar does have a great voice and is a good actress, but while she is very effective at the start, she doesn't bring out the spite of Donna Elvira. Horiana Brantisteanu never quite brings out the fiery side of Donna Anna, and while she improves significantly later, she starts off rather tired. The weak link is Leo Goeke. Don Ottavio could be said as a somewhat thankless role, which to some extent is true, but Goeke seems really wooden here and his singing is also inconsistent ranging from decent to quite unappealing in some of the runs.
All in all, good but disappointing. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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