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Customer reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars

on 20 December 2014
Don Giovanni set in a dark forest sounded interesting but it might as well of been set in a desert for all the use that was made of it. The disguise element of the opera could of been brought off better amongst the trees perhaps, but no it simple made it more muddled. Maltman's Don spent much of the time looking bedraggled and feeling sorry for himself instead of the common denominator of the drama. Also I don't appreciate ( Possible Spoiler for some ) the omission of ' Il mio Tesoro ' or the moralising epilogue at the end of the second act finale. The opera greats are Mozart, Wagner, & Verdi, with for me MOZART the greatest, Don Giovanni THE greatest opera ever composed - some respect please - Claus Guth & co stop meddling !!
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on 5 September 2010
Of all Mozart's operas, Don Giovanni seems to be the one with themes that make it more open to modern day re-envisioning and reinterpretation. And it's not so much the subject of the amorous activities of a philandering nobleman that make the opera so timeless as much as the underlying themes of passion, revenge, power and conquest, or - as in this particular production for the 2008 Salzburg Festval - the question of honour.

Accordingly, there's something of a Godfather feel to the tempestuous Latin passions of love and revenge here that feels perfectly appropriate, the production approaching the opera from a different angle while remaining perfectly true to the strengths of Mozart's score and the themes of Da Ponte's wonderful libretto, full of wit and wisdom. It's certainly more complex and nuanced on the subject of relationships between male and female than their rather more buffa treatment of the subject in Così Fan Tutte. To cite just one example, look at Donna Elvira's complex feelings for Don Giovanni, expressing hatred, contempt and frustration for Giovanni, but at the same time her actions are fuelled by a deep love and an irrational but no less sincere hope for his redemption.

The staging here is limited entirely to a dark woods setting, but imaginatively deployed on a revolving stage which gives a wonderful three-dimensional quality to the production (well directed for the screen, as ever, by Brian Large). As well observed as the references and updating are - the staging never compromising the integrity of a truly great opera - the performances here are just as nuanced, powerful and dramatic, Christopher Maltman's near-deranged, wild-eyed obsessive Don Giovanni brilliantly balanced and vocally matched with Erwin Schrott's amusingly twitchy Leporello. The score is magnificently interpreted, drawing the full darkness and energy out of the opera, as well as bringing out its underlying tenderness and tragedy. In this respect, in addition to strong singing you would expect from all the major roles, Matthew Polenzani gives one of the most sensitive and sympathetic readings of Don Ottavio that I've seen for this opera.

The image quality on the Blu-ray - once it takes its time to actually load-up onto the player - is fine, while the orchestration is given a fine presentation in the DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 mix, centrally located and unshowy on the surrounds, and beautifully toned. The singing initially seems a little echoing in this mix, occasionally overwhelmed by the music, but it's generally good and seems to improve by the end of the first Act. The PCM Stereo mix gives the singing a better stage, but at the cost of the fine separation of the orchestration.

This is not the most traditional production of Don Giovanni, and it certainly isn't the best I've seen or heard, the limitations of the woods setting losing some of the familiar elements that usually make it work so well as a drama (traditionalists will be disappointed by a bus timetable in place of a Register of the Don's conquests, no masks on the wedding guests, a Burger King take-away for a dinner-party, twigs for the Commendatore's statue and certainly no flames at the finale), but that's balanced with a reasonably fresh take on the themes, some strong singing and fine acting that is more naturalistic than the usual operatic gesturing, and a fascinating visual presentation in terms of its design and conceptualisation.
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on 9 November 2010
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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on 2 November 2010
Same problem as in other EuroArts releases (Mahler 2, etc.), but much worse in this case: the player (Philips BDP-9500) freezes just at the beginning ("Notte e giorno faticar"). After switching off and on again, the problem appears immediately even if one chooses to start at a more forward track from the menu. So, this blu-ray disc is totally unreadable. Pity, the first minute looked very nice...
Be careful when buying EuroArts blu-rays, also in the future: they assume that you have a blu-ray player compliant with their very personalized software standard. According to the forums in the net, this is not the case of (at least certain) Oppo, Pioneer (and, now, I add Philips) players. The price is high, at it could be a literal waste of money (and good humour) if you are unlucky...
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on 19 April 2011
This review is not for the performance. Actually, the performance was good, interesting stage, fine singing & acting.
But, it was not played, all three blu-ray copies, which I bought, on four(!) different blu-ray players.
It's stuck in many scenes during playing, sometimes not loaded at all from start and the players were also freezed, so we had to turn off the player.
Total waste of money, very disappointed about the quality of Euro Arts blu-ray.
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on 22 August 2012
In this controversial version DG gets shot in the stomach right at the start and so spends the whole time dying and in increasing pain but still trying his luck. This means that one is much more sympathetic to him than otherwise but also mixed with some of the usual revulsion. All very complex and wonderful with all the main parts very well sung and acted.. And very sexy!
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