Noilly Prattle: Lasciate ogni speranza.....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lasciate ogni speranza.....

January 17, 2013 - Don Giovanni cast curtain call at Deutsche Oper, Berlin

signs reads "Abandon all hope"
Michael Volle
     Abandon all who enter here reads the inscription over the gate to Inferno (hell) in Dante's Divine Comedy. It was also the theme of last night's production of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. The title role played to perfection as a world-weary dissipated looking Don with strong undertones of sadomasochism by Michael Volle a veteran baritone with a perfect combination of power, depth and even sweetness in his voice.

Alex Esposito
     The stage set, in keeping with the frugal spending habits of opera companies in these economic hard times, is, at the outset, less than minimalist—it is threadbare. Costumes look like cheap, off the rack, contemporary outfits. But what the set lacks in expensive costumes and scenery, is more than made up for in the energy of the performers. This is a very kinetic opera with the chorus going through all kinds of antics and semi-dance and acrobatic actions. There is a lot of broad farcical gesturing dripping with sexual innuendo including pedophilia. Yet it is curiously mechanical, almost detached from human experience, yet uproariously funny. Alex Esposito as Leporello is especially effective as a stage comedian with just the right touch of flippancy and lechery in his voice and actions and some surprisingly agile acrobatics.

Donald Runnicles
       As the overture, ably led by Donald Runnicles, wanes, the chorus emerges slowly from total darkness downstage into partial shadow moving upstage—one at a time at first and then in twos and threes and then small groups until they fill the stage. They all represent Leporello, the Don's manservant. The question “will the real Leporello please stand up” popped into my mind. The opening lines are performed by the whole chorus instead of with a lone Leporello singing solo. Echos of this multiple male characters imagery continues throughout the production.

      Patricia Cioffi's Donna Anna was flawless in her aria Non mi dir, and Yosep Kang was one of the better Don Ottavio's who, unfortunately, had one of his arias, Il mio tesoro, taken out of this performance. I was looking forward to hearing him try this most difficult of tenor arias.

      A notable scene occurred in the final act at Don Giovanni's supper. The table, the Don (as Jesus Christ) and twelve of the chorus singers were arranged in a tableau parodying Leonardo da Vinci's painting of The Last Supper.

Don Giovanni's Last Supper

     All in all a very original, thought provoking and successful production of Don Giovanni. Mozart the iconoclast would have approved I think.

Silke Sense


Don Giovanni
Donna Anna
Don Ottavio
The Commendatore
Donna Elvira

Note: All photos [except the top one] are publicity photos taken from the Deutsche Oper web site.

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