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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable alternative Don Giovanni, 9 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni: Salzburg Festival 2008) [Blu-ray] [2010] (Blu-ray)
Modern dress productions of opera classics can be very dodgy, so I looked forward to this blu-ray disc with some trepidation. I bought it on the strength of the cast, and I'm pleased to say the production is a genuine winner.

Of course, there is the odd incongruity that is inevitable after 200 years of cultural attitude changes, but nothing that seriously upsets the enjoyment of this new view.

A complete break from tradition, the stage setting is a forest on a revolve, which is interesting and quite cleverly used. But the big plus for this production is the stellar cast of singers who all give great value. Here is a run down of the best:

As Don Giovanni, Christopher Maltman is one of the most appealing baritones who can not only sing magnificently, but comes from a generation of young artists who can actually act. (And the fact that he doesn't look bad either, has to be a big bonus in the part!) He was always going to be a good start to the casting.

I enjoyed Erwin Shrott's role in the Marriage of Figaro (also on blu-ray), and here he takes a another great leap forward in musical and acting performance as Leporello, Don Giovanni's rather simple, guileless sidekick. He plays him with irresistible charm and appeal. (And he even gets away with the risky adoption of a physical tic which could have been disastrously irritating in the wrong hands.) For those interested in the visual, Mr Shrott is, of course, another hunk! And another very fine singer and actor too.

Dorothea Roschmann as Elvira (the jilted fiance) demonstrates flawless vocal control with the explosive and exciting fireworks the part asks for. And yet the voice is never less than beautiful.

And the surprise, for me, is a part I'd always written off as weak - that of Donna Anna, a girl seduced by the Don, whose father is subsequently murdered by him. Here she is played by Annette Dasch (new to me) who brings a real vocal brilliance to the part, injecting passion and excitement that I've never heard before in this role. It makes all the difference to maintaining the high octane flow of the play.

Not only can these first class singers act, (still sadly too rare in opera, even today), but they are pretty sharp with the wit and characterisations too. Good on the lot of them. The end result is a polished sylish performance that is an involving, very pleasurable and lively experience.

Whilst the opera's traditional settings will always have their place on your shelf, I recommend that you buy this as your alternative version - and enjoy it.
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