LABELS: C Major
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Don Giovanni
WORKS: Don Giovanni
PERFORMER: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Enrico Iori, Myrtò Papatanasiu, Marlin Miller, Carmela Remigio, Andrea Concetti, Manuela Bisceglie, William Corro; Coro Lirico Marchigiano Vincenzo Bellini; Fondazione Orchestra Regionale delle Marche/Riccardo Frizza; dir. Pier Luigi Pizzi
Several years ago I despaired of ever again seeing a satisfactory Don Giovanni. What used to be Mozart’s most unsinkable opera seemed to have become an endlessly problematic work, and productions set in car parks, housing estates, on dead horses, just got ever more depressing. Maybe we can no longer take promiscuity seriously, as something to be awesomely punished. But at last, from the Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata, comes a performance and production which are as near perfection as I can ever hope to experience. The cast is mainly unknown to me, only bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, who plays Giovanni (for the first time) being familiar. He has just the right sleazy glamour for the role, both repellent and irresistible. The only controversial aspect of the production is that he seems to be at least bi-curious, groping the not unwilling Leporello of Andrea Concetti whenever there’s not a woman around.
His victims, or would-be victims, are extremely strongly played, with Myrtò Papatanasiu a fiery, passionate Anna, and the Elvira of Carmela Remigio displaying just the right combination of pathos and irritatingness: the crucial test, the trio near the start of Act II, is passed with flying colours, showing the full cruelty of Giovanni and not sparing Leporello either.
The setting is sparse, the costumes 18th century. Often the backdrop parts to show an unmade double bed, which comes in handy for most of the characters at one time or another. Their elaborate clothing doesn’t seem to impede their imperious desires – for everyone in this production has strong urges. The excellent conductor Riccardo Frizza chooses brisk but flexible tempos underlining how driven all the characters are. I can hardly believe it, but here is a Don Giovanni that I want to see again as soon as I can. Michael Tanner