A master seducer who beguiles with his looks and his voice: "He IS Don Giovanni!"
(Le Temps, Geneva)
The curtain rises ... on Leporello, one of the great comic figures in the operatic repertoire. Soon enough, however, the tone darkens and Don Giovanni emerges with the ravishing – and ravished? – Donna Anna, with her father the Commendatore in hot pursuit. In just a few minutes, Mozart has spun from comedy to tragedy with jaw-dropping ease and astonishing veracity. From the very start, Mozart makes it clear that he has written a "dramma giocoso," or merry drama, a term that sums up the schizophrenic qualities of the work. It is both a dark-hued tale of death, betrayal and sexual exploitation as well as a comedy of thwarted male desires and imaginative techniques of seduction. Giovanni himself embodies comedic traits as well as dissoluteness – an emblem of the never-ending hunt for erotic lust in all of its guises.
Director Sven-Eric Bechtolf sees his hero as the incarnation of maleness, the pleasure-seeking, conquest-hungry man for whom life is a ball. Bechtolf buttresses his vision through the Art Deco-inspired, ballroom-like set of Rolf Glittenberg and the elegant costumes by Marianne Glittenberg. By mirroring the room through video projections on the rear wall, Bechtolf gives the action a sense of endlessness that reflects the story of the great seducer himself.
Rarely has a Don Giovanni been as seductive as Simon Keenlyside. The chameleon-like versatility of his lush baritone voice is matched only by his physical agility. His bright, supple voice and commanding stage presence are stunningly offset by Anton Scharinger's mature, wise and world-weary Leporello. Eva Mei's Donna Anna is not only gorgeous to behold but heart-melting to hear. Her lover Don Ottavio is sung with bel canto sweetness by Piotr Beczala. And while Malin Hartelius paints a grippingly vulnerable Elvira, Martina Janková and Reinhard Mayr portray Zerlina and Masetto as a lusty couple devoid of faux rustic charm. Franz Welser-Möst entices a light, transparent sound from the orchestra which caresses every vocal line and molds itself to every nuance of the work's complex and multi-layered characters.