Future Canadian Opera Company production of Don Giovanni makes the characters members of one extended family
Robert Lepage's magical multimedia confection, The Nightingale and Other Fables, which had its world premiere in Toronto earlier this year, opened in Europe this month to critical raves. Also at the annual festival in Aix-en-Provence, France, audiences have been wrapping their heads around a new twist on Mozart's Don Giovanni.
You can catch both shows on Arte's web channel -- for free -- if you register (which is quick and painless).
This new production of Don Giovanni is the brainchild of Russian metteur-en-scène Dmitri Cherniakov. He sets the whole thing in the Commendatore's posh, present-day drawing room, over the course of several weeks. Oh, and all of the characters are members of one extended family.
Cherniakov has put his creative paw prints on everything, including Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto. He begins to play with us from the very beginning: the opera begins in silence as servants arrange the room for a family meeting. The Overture begins the moment the Commendatore sits down at the boardroom table -- and then the curtain goes down for the balance of the Overture.
This production is slick and beautiful. The cast (including veteran Don Bo Skovhus, Marlis Petersen as Donna Anna, and Canadian Colin Balzer as Don Ottavio) is excellent, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra sounds great under Louis Langrée.
Purists will shake their fists at the meddlesome tactics of director-driven opera, but I think this production has something to add to the history of an opera that is among the world's most-performed. Expect to see it in Toronto in "an upcoming season," says the Canadian Opera Company.