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Mozart: Don Giovanni (DVD)

Erwin Schrott, Roberto Tagliavini et al; Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Hartmut Haenchen (Opus Arte / DVD)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Mozart
Don Giovanni (DVD)
Erwin Schrott, Roberto Tagliavini, Malin Byström, Myrtò Papatanasiu, Daniel Behle, Louise Alder, Petros Magoulas, Leon Košavic; Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Hartmut Haenchen; dir. Kasper Holten (London, 2014)
Opus Arte DVD: OA1344D; Blu-ray: OABD7295D   178 mins

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Well did you ever? The booklet that accompanies this DVD of Kasper Holten’s Royal Opera House production of Don Giovannicredits Emanuel Schikaneder, the impresario for whom Mozart wrote The Magic Flute, as the author of the libretto! Moving swiftly on, this is really the video designer Luke Hall’s production quite as much as Holten’s, staged in a vast revolving mansion, with many rooms and doors, constantly digitally graffitied; most effectively during Leporello’s catalogue aria when the walls are covered with women’s names.

The production mixes and matches the Prague and Vienna versions of the opera in an uncritical way, with Holten’s Giovanni not dragged off to hell and the moral edge of the final ensemble blunted as the survivors pronounce judgement off stage.

Holten’s Don is a fine fellow out for a good time, with Erwin Schrott every inch stripped to the waistrel and ready to give the girls what ‘they desire’. So no hint of rape, or violent seduction, no agonising ennui and no rebellion against stifling social mores. Indeed, it’s hard to know why or where and when the drama unfolds with the cast fashionably dressed across several historical periods. If Malin Byström struggles with Donna Anna, Myrtò Papatanasiu’s Donna Elvira tugs at the heart, although Hartmut Haenchen’s measured tempos in ‘Mi tradi’ scarcely seem to her taste. Louise Alder is a bouncy Zerlina and her Masetto, Leon Košavić, suitably sulky. Poor Don Ottavio, two of the most tender arias in the opera, but will Daniel Behle ever get his girl when Holten’s Donna Anna only has hands for Giovanni?

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Christopher Cook