Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni Bryn Terfel Renee Fleming Ferruccio Furlanetto Solveig Kringelborn Paul Groves Hei-Kyung Hong John Relyea Sergei Koptchak Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus James Levine Production by Franco Zeffirelli|
Directors: Franco Zeffirelli, Gary Halvorson
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
On Deutsche Grammophon 044007340103/B000405109; 2 DVD's; A magnificent DVD of the stunning Franco Zeffirelli production at the Metropolitan Opera House from October 2000. The cast is wonderful, the acting is terrific, and ... more »
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The Greatest Opera of All!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 06/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There! I've said it! And I won't take it back! Mozart's "Don Giovanni" fulfills the ideal of opera more convincingly than any other: great music and great theater, plus a depth of 'intellectual interest' unmatched by any opera from its debut until the 20th C. I never miss a staging of Don Giovanni in any city I happen to be in at the right time, and I have now five productions of it on DVD.
This 2000 CE production by Franco Zeffirelli at the New York Met is a fantastic success on DVD: good camera-work and good sound recording of a visually lavish 'period' staging. Oddly enough, given the amount of griping one hears about modernized Euro-trash stagings, this ripely traditional staging has one one review before mine on amazon and iisn't one of the "hot" sellers. Go figure!
The only musical weakness comes right at the start, in the overture, when conductor james Levine gasps and grimaces like Toad of Toad Hall to coax some energy from his pit, where the instrumentalists do seem to be weary and their timbres more proper than exhilarating. Once the curtain rises, however, the magic of Mozart prevails. This is a superb "singing" cast, all of whom deliver dramatically as well. And they all bear looking at, even in close-up. Best of all, this is a well-rehearsed ensemble with natural theatrical blocking. Not one singer just spreads her/his arms and bellows an aria full-face.
Ferruccio Furlanettos shines dramatically as Leoporello, the principal "giocoso" role in this Dramma Giocoso - Joking Drama - that rivals the darkest of Shakespeare's tragicomedies. Furlanetto is so effective as an actor that one almost forgets to notice how well he sings the part.
Don Ottavio is often the weakest role in stagings of Don Giovanni, though as the leading tenor voice he has some of the most beautiful music to sing. But Ottavio is almost always portrayed as an ineffective 'wuss'. Paul Groves has the physical stature to play Ottavio as a 'bella figura', a man of stout character and careful judgment. Dramatically, I'd say he's the most convincing Ottavio I've ever seen, and he sings convincingly also.
Basso Sergei Koptchak is commendably grave as the Commendatore. Soprano Hei-kyung Hong is slyly vivacious as the lovely peasant girl Zerlina, whom Don Juan schemes to possess on her wedding day, and John Relyea portrays the abused, resentful bridegroom Masetto as both manly and a bit sappy. Theirs are "giocoso" roles, but they imbue their characters with enough humanity to deserve empathy, and one should remember that their plight under the oppressive aristocrat Giovanni, and their resistance to class oppression, amounted to 'radical politics' in Mozart's Austria. Of the three female singers in this cast, Hong has the best control of her voice, the closest to "historically informed" vocal technique, in an unapologetically modern musical context.
Donna Elvira, the victim of an earlier seduction who comes stalking her betrayer, is often sung by an aging overweight diva as a broadly comic virago. Her ambivalence toward Don Giovanni is indeed comical, but her role in the opera is better served by a depiction of sincere emotions, of a poignantly obsessive love turning to hate. Her aria begging for mercy for her seducer is critical in the dramatic interpretation of this opera; through her lovesick eyes, we see Don Giovanni as the magnificent male animal he had to be and not just as an unrepentant sinner in a morality play. Solveig Kringelborn is attractive enough, and actress enough, to make her pivotal role effective. She's absurd, yes of course, but she's also plausibly sympathetic.
Renee Fleming is a star of the fifth magnitude, whose singing doesn't always please me. But she's at her best in the role of Donna Anna. She looks the part, she acts the part with dignity, her interaction with her suitor Don Ottavio makes their tragically stalled romance emotionally plausible. Her vocal timbre is too broad for my taste, with the effect of making her pitch sound unfocused at times, but I have to admit that she sings this part, this time, quite beautifully.
And now we come to Bryn Terfel in the role of Don Giovanni. His singing is beyond quibble - stupendous even when he stumbles on the tempo in his tempestuous scene-closing aria "Fin ch'han del vino". His dramatic portrayal of Don Giovanni is a masterpiece of specific, consistent interpretation. His Giovanni is a raw sexual predator, a brute, a hateful narcissist empowered by class status and wealth to demand satisfaction of every appetite. He's a glutton and and a sadistic bully as well as a seducer. Terfel is magnificently ugly and yet reeks of testosterone. Filming his performance, catching his smirks and glares in close-up, affords us "home" audience members a sense of how potent his acting really was, there on stage where the live audience could hardly have appreciated it. Terfels' Giovanni is truly a nasty scoundrel who deserves to be carried off to Hell.
That's my only reservation about this splendid Don Giovanni. It simplifies the moral drama more than I would choose. My own concept of Don Giovanni is no less damnable but somewhat more ambiguous. He's closer to Faust in his defiance of social conventions and restrictions. There should be something almost Promethean about his refusal to submit to any authority outside himself. Terfel's Giovanni is tough, fiercely brave, scornful of any weakness, but in the end just a hormone-powered bully full of himself. His demise is no tragedy. Good riddance! But there's something in the Don Juan character that humanity has always admired. Women do fall in love with him. Men do need to come to terms with him. That's the intellectual, psychological depth of this opera, that makes it the greatest ever composed."
The Best Performance of the Opera that I have Seen
MikelMask | Maryland, USA | 06/13/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen and heard many performances of Don Giovanni and this is unquestionably the best that I have experienced. The opera, like almost all of Mozart's operas, rises or falls based on the excellence of the ensemble. In this performance, the entire cast was outstanding and the singing was uniformly magnificent. Sergej Kopcak and Paul Groves, as Massetto and Don Ottavio respectfully, both believably played dashing lovers seeking revenge for assaults on their betrothed by the Don. Renee Fleming was her normal exquisite self in the role of Donna Anna- regal, aggrieved, and in mourning over the death of her father. Bryn Terfel made a fantastic Don, in turn charming, self-absorbed, and vicious. Terfel's performance depicted a Don whose evil was beyond redemption. Watching him exert his "charms" was like watching a train wreck that one cannot keep their eyes off of- a true achievement. However, for me the most outstanding aspect of seeing this performance was becoming introduced to three singers who I was unfamiliar- Solveig Kringelborn as Donna Elvira, Hong Hei-Kyung as Zerlina, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Leporello. Solveig Kringelborn beautifully portrayed a woman who was both in love and had been wronged. Hong Hei-Kyung did a terrific job playing a naive young woman when encountering a nobleman but then turned into an amorous coquette as she dealt with Masetto's jealousy. I particularly liked Ferruccio Furlanetto as he acted as the Greek Chorus providing cynical context to the proceedings while maintaining the Don's huge book of female conquests. Zeferrelli's staging provided additional richness to experiencing this opera. All in all, this is a fabulous performance and I look forward to enjoying it on a regular basis."
Dynamic duo - Terfel and Furlanetto
Rose Constantine | 09/30/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This fabulous 2000 production of Don Giovanni is the best - bar none. I have seen many, many productions of this greatest of all operas and none come even close to this brilliantly cast production. Outstanding are Solvieg Kringelborn, who nearly (but not quite) steals the show as a very funny! Donna Elvira and Paul Groves, much more sympathetic than usual in the role of Don Ottavio. Fleming, Hong, Relyea and Koptchak are terrific. But, Don Giovanni lovers literally haven't lived until they see and hear the matchless pair of Bryn Terfel as the Don and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Leporello. They both possess wonderful voices and first-class acting chops. In fact, IMO, Furlanetto is a comic genius and the best actor in opera. The fact that both Terfel and especially Furlanetto are very attractive men doesn't hurt either,I could watch them forever."