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Subject: Met Don Giovanni 2016
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 1 Oct 2016 17:55:33 -0700

text/plain (64 lines)

Financial Times / Arts / October 1, 2016

Don Giovanni
Metropolitan Opera, New York

	It’s a funny thing. Familiarity can breed contentment, over-riding
the contempt of earlier impressions. Take, for example, the current version
of Mozart’s +Don Giovanni+ at the Met.

	When it was new, back in 2011, one wasn’t much irked by any avowed
intention to play the inaction “in an unnamed Spanish city in the mid-18th
century”. One could be disheartened, however, by Michael Grandage’s decision
to restrict the narrative to a tedious series of symmetrical residential
facades designed by Christopher Oram.

	On Tuesday, however, the visual conceit seemed little more than an
incidental distraction. The music, after all, was the thing, and Louisa
Muller, currently credited as stage director, focused the inherited schemes
and patterns smartly.

	The big news onstage involved Simon Keenlyside, who bravely
undertook the title role after a worrisome absence necessitated by medical
crises. Slight of stature, both physically and vocally, he could not convey
instant magnetism in conventional terms. But he provided more than ample
compensation with telling phraseology, nimble wit and endlessly clever, also
charming, touches of character delineation.

	The Met surrounded him with an uneven ensemble dominated by Adam
Plachetka’ s broad and bluff Leporello and Paul Appleby’s virtuosic Don
Ottavio. With this American tenor (a replacement for Rolando Villazón), both
the suavity of “Dalla sua pace” and the agitation of “Il mio tesoro” exerted
equal approval. Serena Malfi rescued Zerlina from cutsey clichés, making the
flirt a sexy woman rather than a stupid soubrette. Matthew Rose exuded nice
pseudo-bravado as her Masetto, and Kwangchul Youn made the basso morbidity
of the Commendatore properly fearsome.

More problematic, alas, were Hibla Gerzmava (Donna Anna) and Malin Byström
(Donna Elvira). Both sopranos compromised theatrical valour with varied
degrees of stridency.

Fabio Luisi, now listed as principal conductor, enforced fine, taut and tidy
propulsion in the pit. He also ignored any opportunity for Baroque frills.


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