Mozart: Don Giovanni

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Don Giovanni
PERFORMER: Carlos Álvarez, Alfed Reiter, María Bayo, José Bros; Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Real (Madrid Symphony Orchestra and Chorus)/Victor Pablo Pérez; dir. Lluis Pasqual (Madrid, 2005)
CATALOGUE NO: OA 0958 D (NTSC system;dts 5.1; 16:9 anamorphic)
Lluis Pasqual’s 2005 production from Madrid’s Teatro Real sets Mozart’s opera in the Spain of the 1940s, showing the anti-hero as a rebel against the religious orthodoxies of Franco’s period. It’s not an approach likely to resonate strongly outside Spain, and Pasqual’s own explanation of it in one of three interviews included on the second disc (the others are with conductor Victor Pablo Pérez and the protagonist, Carlos Álvarez) doesn’t really open this multivalent work up to wider view.

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Ezio Frigerio’s sets and Franca Squarciapino’s costumes have their oddities too. The peasants’ wedding festivities take place around the dodgems of a funfair that is later recycled for the party at Giovanni’s palazzo, where everyone is in eighteenth-century dress. It doesn’t add up.

The suitability of some of the casting is also open to question. María Bayo remains a delectable light soprano, but the vocal requirements of Donna Anna usually involve a grander voice, and the spread of her tone to fulfil them is obvious. Sonia Ganassi’s respectable if frowsy housewife of an Elvira is nevertheless skilfully sung, and there’s an aptly lyrical lower-class couple from José Antonio López’s Masetto and María José Moreno’s Zerlina.

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José Bros’s Ottavio is a stiff but correct army officer, and Lorenzo Regazzo’s Leporello shows some canny spirit. Yet none of the principals, not even Álvarez’s debonair Giovanni, really provides a memorable or distinctive interpretation; nor does Pérez’s conducting set Seville alight. The whole lacks the detailed dramatic and musical insights provided by, say, the recent Daniel Harding/Peter Brook version from Aix. George Hall