One day later after the extraordinay Opening night Gala of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”, we had the second opening night performance of this sensational season of the Met with Mozart’s Don Giovanni which is just like “Tristan und Isolde” a masterpiece of history of Opera and also a very profound work of art.
When people ask me what are the most incredible, beautiful things created by man on this earth, I definitely give as an answer the Mozart/da Ponte Operas… Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte and of course, Don Giovanni.
There are no words to describe the beauty of Mozart’s music and the genius of Da Ponte’s libretto.
There are many books about the legend of “Don juan”, the most famous of all is Tirso de Molina’s “The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest), Byron’s epic poem “Don Juan”, Pushkin’s play “The Stone Guest”, Jose Zorrila’s “Don juan Tenorio” and Molière’s play “Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre” and it was Molière’s play that inspired to Lorenzo da Ponte for the Libretto for Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
It was a huge pleasure to listen to the opening night of the revival of Michael Grandage’s production of Don Giovanni at the Met, but the joy was greater by listening to the great Baritone Simon Keenlyside back on scene as the title role of Don Giovanni. This performance marked the return of Simon Keenlyside after months of absence due to illness and vocal problems. And fortunately, Simon Keenlyside sounded wonderful in the performance and he received excellent reviews from the critics.
Unfortunately, tenor Rolando Villazon had to cancel his performances as Don Ottavio due to illness and had to be replaced by Paul Appleby.
After Keenlyside, Soprano Hibla Gerzmava became the greatest performer of this production of Don Giovanni. After her magnificent performance as Desdemona, a few months ago, in the last performance of Verdi’s “Otello”, back in April and May of this year, Hibla gave us again, another exquisite and delightful performances as Dona Anna.
In this season of the Met, “Don Giovanni” will have three different casts, next November, we will get to listen to Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role and next year Mariusz Kwiecien.
I must say that Fabio Luisi conducted a little bit fast but still a good performance.
This production by Michael Grandage received mixed reviews (since the first performances and the first HD broadcast back in 2012) but I must say, that is very worth to watch the new HD broadcast of “Don Giovanni” next October 22 because of the marvelous singing, beautiful music of By Mozart, in which many critics have claimed “Don Giovanni” as the “Opera of Operas”. And yes, they are right, not matter how many times I listen to this masterpiece, I alwas find something new to discover, and I l always feel like if I was listening to it for the first time, and that is what makes Don Giovanni a true masterpiece and classic. From the first minutes of the brilliant overture, to the most wonderful arias, duets, trios and sextets… “Notte e giorno faticar, “Madamina il catalogo è questo”, “La Ci darem la mano”, “Finch’a dal vino”, “Deh vieni alla finestra”, “Il Mio tesoro”, “”Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata”, to the final, majestic, extraordinary moments of Don Giovanni, Leporello and the statue of ll Commendatore and the male chorus… Don Giovanni is an operatic experience that you will never forget.
Some trivia: Mozart made a musical tribute to other composers from the late 18th century by using their music in the final parts of act 2, when Don Giovanni is having his final dinner and driking Mazermino. The orchestra plays Vicente Martín y Soler’s ” “O quanto in sì bel giubilo” from “Una Cosa rara” and “Come un agnello” from Giuseppe Sarti’s “Fra i due litiganti il terzo gode” and finally, Mozart plays a tribute to himself, by playing his own ” “Non più andrai farfallone amoroso” from his opera “Le Nozze di Figaro”.
In some performances, like the Vienna performances (in times of Gustav Mahler) they omitted the final sextet, after the famous scene of Don Giovanni’s descent into hell, the esemble of “Questo è il fin di chi fa mal, e de’ perfidi la morte alla vita è sempre ugual”because they thought that the Opera should end with Don GIovanni’s end but in my opinion, it was a terrible mistake. The opera of Don GIovanni is not only about the character but it is about all characters that are affected by Don Giovanni’s actions. All characters are important and that is why the final sextet is perfect, in which the ensemble delivers the moral of the opera – “Such is the end of the evildoer: the death of a sinner always reflects his life”.