Don Giovanni at La Scala

Daniel BarenboimRegular readers will know that one of my random fascinations is the opera Don Giovanni. It has it all: a great story; great characters; great music. But different performances vary a lot. And I’ve never been fully satisfied with the staging of the opera — even when it is done as a movie, as with Joseph Losey’s wonderful version. But over the weekend, I found a staged version that I think is the best that I’ve seen and certainly among the best I’ve heard.

In 2011, Daniel Barenboim took over as musical director of La Scala opera house in Milan. And the first production under his leadership was an all star version of Don Giovanni featuring Anna Netrebko as Donna Anna, Peter Mattei as Don Giovanni, and Bryn Terfel as Giovanni’s servant Leporello. But the entire cast is great. And the musical direction is more what I prefer: a modern interpretation.

What I like most, however, is the staging. In general, I’m not that keen on standard stagings of it. And one thing I really don’t like is the whole “tin man” staging of the statue of Don Pedro. In this production, when the statue comes to dinner with Don Giovanni, it comes from out of a coffin. That is kind of ghoulish, which is infinitely more cool than the creaking statue walking through the door.

Interestingly, it hasn’t been released on DVD or even on CD. There may not be much call for it. There are a whole lot of productions. And I am probably in the minority in liking this postmodern production. But I still highly recommend it to anyone at all interested. It is three hours long, of course. But you can listen to it in two sittings. I did.

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