Mozart: Don Giovanni
Dmitri Tcherniakov’s radical Don Giovanni liberates the performers. Their intensity is searing, born of the addiction, denial, and lunacy that Tcherniakov digs out from Da Ponte’s libretto. Sex is a means, not an end, for a staging that reveals the distinctive psychosis of each character: Donna Elvira, whose denial of libido drives her vengefulness; Donna Anna, whose obsession with an ex-lover makes her delusional; Zerlina, who feigns innocence to follow ambition. The plot’s evil genius is Leporello, superbly characterised by Kyle Ketelsen, who drives his hated master to madness by enabling his excesses.
Tcherniakov’s reading gives depth to a drama too often tripped up by creaking period theatrical conceits. Banished from his modern set are the serenade’s mandolin, the Commandatore’s statue, the onstage dance bands, the flames of hell – these are all imagined by Don Giovanni. Bo Skovhus is electrifying in the lead role as he pivots from roaring malevolence to whispered fragility. The famous window serenade ‘Deh vieni alla finestra’, here sung by Don Giovanni to himself with arms outstretched, chillingly evokes the addict’s helplessness. Kristine Opolais (Donna Elvira) and Marlis Petersen (Donna Anna) enflame their vocal lines with frustration. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Louis Langrée articulates extreme states of mind latent in Mozart’s score through well-plotted tempo extremes, loony keyboard realisations and other inspired liberties.
The sound quality is inevitably compromised by this physically strenuous, open-air production. The compensation is that the bonus montage illuminates Tcherniakov’s directorial vision through extreme close-ups, deftly juxtaposed. This DVD is a must-see.