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Subject: The Revenge of Leporello
From: yacov <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:yacov <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 6 Apr 2001 16:52:01 -0400
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I haven't seen anyone comment on this, so I'll toss out a couple of
thoughts...

Wednesday night, here in New York, our PBS station broadcast (as part of
their Great Performances series) an hour-long program titled 'The
Revenge of Leporello' -- it was more or less a film of highlights from
Don Giovanni. The really interesting aspect was that Dmitri Hvorostovsky
sang both Don Giovanni and Leporello. There have been discussions on
this list about singers who have tackled different roles in the same
opera, but how many sang two roles in the same opera at the exact same
time? Quite impossible to do live. I'm a huge fan of Hvorostovsky and I
thought he sang both roles well but it was well... just weird hearing
him sing both at once.

The basic concept of the production was that Leporello was showing home
movies of his master Don Giovanni to the other characters in the opera.
The people watching were in color and the 'movies' were in black and
white. The jumps from scene to scene were accomplished by closing in on
the movie projector turning. It was a pretty effective way to skip all
those scenes where neither the Don nor Leporello are doing any singing.
Despite the Don and Leporello not being in the same reality, they
acknowledged each other. It was quite interesting, as a production
concept.

More interesting to me were some of the characterizations -- for
instance, take the opening scene, right after the duel, when the
Commendatore was calling the Don a murderer. Instead of the Don on one
side of the stage and the dying Commendatore on the other, Hvorostovsky
held the dying Commendatore in his arms, cradling his head. He sang
softly too, changing Don Giovanni from a callous, amoral person into
someone who truly meant what he said before the duel 'I don't want to
kill you' -- he made Giovanni seem human, filled with regret at doing
something he was forced into.

I won't go scene by scene, mostly because I've only seen it once and my
impressions are a bit hazy. But the oddest thing was hearing
Hvorostovsky sing duets with himself. It's taken me a while to learn how
to distinguish different voices during ensemble singing, and having the
two voices being the exact same voice threatened all I've learned!! It
was an interesting experiment and I'd love to see him sing both roles..
but please! not at once!! It's just too hard to figure out who is who!

DId anyone else see this? Would love to hear come other thoughts on this
really unique program -- or on other attempts to take this kind of
advantage of the filmed medium.

- yacov kenigsberg

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