Modern productions have the potential to be illuminating and refreshing, effectively eliminating both ennui and routine. However, in this particular production, updating Mozart's sublime masterpiece to the late twentieth century, all of the pathos, humor, and even sweetness inherent in one of the world's greatest operas is stripped away. In its place is a malicious, vicious, and, dare I say, ugly adaptation from Calixto Bieito. Since this production is so far removed from traditional stagings, there are several blatant inconsistencies. For example, Donna Anna is raped in the backseat of a car, but later sings in her dramatic recitative from da Ponte's famous libretto how Don Giovanni stole into her ROOM and violated her. Another curiosity includes the scene in which Leporello escapes from Masetto and the others by 'hiding' in a trash can that he was stuffed into by his pursuers as his pursuers exclaim how he has simply vanished. When Don Giovanni attempts to seduce Donna Elvira's maid under her window, he does so by serenading into a telephone. The worst violation yet must be the events that unfold near the end of Act Two. Leporello and Don Giovanni encounter a non existent statue of Donna Anna's father in a bar, not a cemetary, and of course invite the non existent statue to dinner. Huh? What's more, in the final dinner scene, the Commendatore arises from the trunk of a car, covered in blood, and is repeatedly stabbed and mutilated by Don Giovanni before Don Giovanni collapes. In this production, he is not dragged down to hell unrepentant. When the vengeful victims all rush on stage to tell the moral of the story, they, including Leporello, place Don Giovanni in a chair and take turns plunging a knife into his chest or slicing his throat.
The performance, as a whole, is very good. Bertrand de Billy conducts a forceful and dramatic reading of the score and the cast is quite effective. Unfortunately, Bieito's controversial staging is a distraction and, even more, quite ineffective at conveying the joys and delights that make Don Giovanni such an incredible and one of a kind theater experience. I will advise that you would do best to rent or borrow this DVD from the library before purchase if you tend to enjoy modern productions, no matter how out of tune with the original intentions of writer and composer. Others should beware!