I watched the encore performance of the Met’s new production of Don Giovanni last night at the Regal Theater (tickets were sold out at AMC; and the Regal Theater actually is quite a delightful alternative with its cheap/free parking).
In reading Anthony Tommasini’s review in the NYTimes, I found myself mostly nodding and agreeing with his critique.
1. The staging was too drab… the politically correct word, it seems, is “traditional”. I did like two scenes. One was Leporello’s “Catalogue” aria where the length of balconies split open to reveal a piazza surrounded by a curved wall of balconies from which groups of women lingered, symbolizing the Don’s thousands of conquests. The other was right at the end, when the floor opened up to swallow the unrepentant Don, as flames and smoke erupted all around the terrified Leporello. Otherwise, the staging felt too staid; even the costumes of the singers blended in with the olive-toned walls. I much preferred Francesca Zambello’s production at Covent Garden (the production featuring Simon Keenlyside, Joyce Didonato, Ramon Vargas etc)
2. I thoroughly enjoyed Maruisz Kwiecien’s characterization of the Don (thank goodness he recovered enough from his back surgery to star in the Met Opera streaming). He’s truly the Johnny Depp of opera, with his debonair good looks and charm. Voice-wise, he sounded a little uneven at times – I was a little disappointed with his “La ci Darem la Mano” duet but loved his seduction aria of Donna Elvira’s maid.
3. I really liked Barbara Frittoli’s Donna Elvira… Marina Rebeka’s Donna Anna sounded a touch strident at times.. Ramon Vargas really cannot act, but his singing was beautiful as always