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Subject: gonizing Night at "Don Giovanni"
From: Mark Loeb <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mark Loeb <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 17 Mar 1998 07:13:29 -0500

text/plain (32 lines)

I had the misfortune of attending last night's performance of the
Washington Opera's production of "Don Giovanni" at the Kennedy Center, a
performance I disliked so much that I did something I almost never do--I
walked out, specifically after Nina Rautio's horrendous "Non mi dir" which
was sung so badly as to sound like a dog barking. I was not alone--a couple
of dozen others left as well.

The scenery and costumes are the centerpiece of a Jean Pierre Ponnelle
production at his most drab and static, unimaginatively lit, with only
scrims going up and down for variation. The orchestra under Maestro Heinz
Feicke was thankfully quite competent, but the lead singers were not overly
exciting, to put it mildly. While Dwayne Croft has all the notes, as well
as a fine voice, he was in my view an utterly unerotic and dull Don. I just
didn't feel any sinuous machismo or electricity. Granted I am spoiled by
having many performances of Siepi in my memory bank, and further granted
that I believe the role demands a bass-baritone rather than a baritone, but
for me Croft hasn't yet got the dramatic panache. Others may disagree. His
brother Richard was a more than adequate Don Ottavio, but not
extraordinary. Hei-Kyung Hong was a fine Zerlina and Alexandrina
Pendatchanska was better than average as Donna Elvira. My favorite artist
of the evening was Rosendo Flores as Leporello. He has a smooth and refined
voice with a beautiful sound; he is also a good actor. Frank Hernandez was
a capable Masetto. Nina Rautio, as mentioned above, was horrendous as Donna
Anna, totally off-pitch all night.

But overall the dullness of the production, the lack of excitement in a
number of the roles and some truly bad singing made it a forgettable
evening. To make it worse, I had a seat in the Orchestra in the Rear just
under the overhang. It was hot and extremely stuffy most of the night. I
wish I had better news to report.

Rabbi Mark Loeb, Baltimore

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