Reviews & Ratings for
"Great Performances" Don Giovanni Unmasked (2001)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A splendidly idiosyncratic and visually compelling Don Giovanni

8/10
Author: Thomas Corrie from England
21 April 2003

This shortened version of Mozart's opera is filmed with an imaginative twist. The staging is split with an abstracted Spain watched on a black and white projector screen by the characters who are set in the same landscape but in thirties Hollywood. This excellent conceit is central to the director's interpretation and is stylishly handled.

The singing is generally good but the running time of an hour or so reduces some of the characters to mere cameos. The consistent operatic problem of casting people who can both sing, act, and look the part is in evidence but Hvorostovsky relishes his role[s] and his portrayal of the licentious nobleman is refreshingly un-forced.

Although the special effects are largely excellent the fire present in the final immolation is at times unrealistic and the final cries of Don Giovanni are somewhat feeble for man who is being committed to the very bosom of Hell.

An enjoyable and provocative filming but probably only of interest to those with prior knowledge of the opera.

8/10

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Duplicated Beauty

8/10
Author: Conspirator Slash from Ireland
25 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As stated above, this is for the Hvorostovsky fans and those already familiar with the opera. The idea of making Don G and Leporello Doppelgängers is great. As the plot goes forth, it becomes more and more clear they are not even Doppelgängers, they are one as Jekyll and Hyde. And the Commendatore, with his Nazgul-like ghostly companions, knows this too well. Oops, Leporello. Being Don G is one thing, paying the fiery price is another...

Very good singers in general, although I'd have preferred a Commendatore with a bigger voice.

But anyway, Hvorostovsky shines in his angelic beauty. Maybe too angelic for the Don. I prefer Gilfry's demonic predator or Keenlyside's wicked charmer. Dima lacks the depravity that makes the Don worth for hellfire. He's beautiful and hot, but somehow innocent. (By the way, the other two are also perfect when it comes to Innocence Incarnate, the polar opposite of the Don, Billy. Dima never sang him. A pity, he'd be so perfect.)

Definitely worth watching if you can get it.

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Cliff Notes Version

7/10
Author: wjoines from Washington, dC
7 May 2001

If you are not familiar with the Opera "Don Giovanni" by Mozart, this is not for you. But, if you are familiar, and you love the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky then you are in for a goldmine.

Ms. Sweete takes a rather unique view of opera's favorite sexual compulsive and his not very trusty servant, Leporello. The singing is, over all, excellent. (Though one could wish that Hvorostovsky had plumbed the depths of his range further) Especially effective is the "serenade" and Leporello's opening aria. The supporting cast is up to the usual excellent standards of the Canadian opera community.

Ms. Sweete has said in numerous interviews that she had originally cast the Welsh baritone Bryn Trefel as the Don and Hvorostovsky as Leporello. One can spend no small amount of time wondering how marvelous this film could have been with the world's two greatest baritones!

Just a note on the sets and design, it is rather stylistic and veers between 1930's Hollywood and a sharp stylistic depiction of 17th Century Spain. It may not be to everyone's tastes and you do have to pay close attention, but it pays off to the careful viewer. The ending is a surprise, but if you think on it, it's makes sense.

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