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Mozart: Don Giovanni (Skovhus, Opolais, Petersen/Freiburger Barockorchester/Louis Langrée) [DVD]  [NTSC]
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A new 'Don Giovanni' in Aix from renowned Russian stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov, awarded best director at the International Opera Awards 2013, and conductor Louis Langrée. More than two centuries after its creation, the emotional pull of this supreme opera remains absolutely intact. Dmitri Tcherniakov duly revisits the myth and makes the seducer of Seville a man without qualities , a cipher whose words have a hypnotic power over women. His words will disrupt the proprieties ruling the Commandatore s family. His words are also what makes Don Juan such a subversive figure and the embodiment of one of the most powerful modern European myths. Leading the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra is one of the best Mozart conductors, Louis Langrée. Bo Skovhus portrays a dispirited Don Giovanni, old playboy and anti-hero. Kyle Ketelsen is his servant Leporello, currently a shoe-in for this rôle. The superb female trio is composed of Marlis Petersen (Donna Anna), Kristine Opolais (Elvira) and Kerstin Avemo (Zerlina).
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It is to the credit of Mozart’s greatest opera to be able to endure many different viewpoints, from traditional to the wildest modern interpretations. I’ve even seen one that took place in South Bronx with an all-black cast and it was marvellous. Here the Don Juan legend, or ‘morality tale’ is from the hand of a young, very talented Russian director Dmitri Tchernakov with a well thought out and imaginative concept that infuses the action, setting, characters into the last detail. That the ‘Concept’ puts the drama in modern setting: a drawing room of a luxurious residence of a dysfunctional family is quite immaterial. It really is all about a man trying to live above the rules of society and although he is successful for a while, ultimately doomed.
To achieve this, the Director, who knows the score and libretto by heart and therefore no bumbling dilettante, selected his ‘singing actors’ with utmost care, mostly young with fine voices and remarkably fit to live up to his strenuous physical, emotional demands. The dissolute
Don, Danish baritone Bo Skovhus is a, larger than life presence, alternatively charming, elegant, seductive, insolent, despondent or manic you name it, although the superhuman demands do take their toll and his powerful voice is sometimes off pitch. The three women representing three social classes and of different ages, are all memorable, each with their own issues, but common in one respect: their uncontrollable, conscious or subliminal attraction to the Don. I was most impressed by the ingénue, exceptional Swedish soprano Kerstin Avemo giving a simply unforgettable, many layered emotional,heartbreakingly empathetic portrayal of Zerlina.
Under the enthusiastic, firm musical leadership of French conductor Louis Langree driving his virtuoso period instrument Orchestra with verve and brisk tempi, the show moves along seamlessly and it’s refreshing like the Provence air.