Tcherniakov’s Don Giovanni live

14-15-03-MC-D-0502I wrote about this production a lot already, but I’ve now finally seen it live and here are a few additional impressions.

Russell Braun was extraordinary last night. He gave it his all in every scene, and if I had to choose the most intense one, it would be “Deh vieni alla finestra” in which he is dancing and singing by himself—perhaps about a whole new world he’s dreamt up? About a less lonely life? He was also perfection in the recit with Zerlina leading up to “La ci darem la mano” and in the duet itself. His attention to the text in the recits in general and how they’re delivered, every word and every pause and silence carefully crafted, I’ve rarely seen at the opera.

Sasha Djihanian’s Zerlina was another flawless delivery. She was just right in “La ci darem”, a jumpy little spark in the ensembles, devastating in “Vedrai carino” directed not at Masetto but Don Giovanni in absentia, and girlishly cruel to the dying Don Giovanni.

Kyle Ketelsen – equally remarkable, considerable star power in evidence there. He knows the role inside out, he is vocally super-confident in it, and his brat Leporello was tone-perfect. The many meanings of an obnoxious bro–he’z got them covered all.

Michael Schade was impressive in his solo arias—after all, he is one of the top Mozartian tenors working today–but overall I had the impression that he was a little bit in his own production, moving according to his own clock and tempi. In one or two cases it felt like he was singing ahead of the orchestra (orchestra?… oh right, hey, come along, gang).

We’re all by now used to nothing but brilliance from Jane Archibald, but I don’t think she particularly liked this Donna Anna or cared to defend her before the audience. The singing and acting were competent, but detached.

Michael Hofstetter’s tempi went a little slower than is my personal preference (for example, I like “Ah, vendicar, se il puoi, giura quel sangue ognor” to be more urgent). There are long breaks, but the production requires it, and the text requires careful delivery, so perhaps this overall pace rather makes sense. Michael Shannon at the harpsichord, and Alastair Eng, the cellist who improvised alongside him in the recits, were always a pleasure to notice.

The production itself possesses a remarkable inner logic and coherence, despite the odd inconsistency here and there (the return of Leporello in DG’s coat to the room where all the other characters are so that the ‘recognition scene’ can take place, for example). But these inconsistencies are a small price worth paying for the thoughtful, serious re-reads like Tcherniakov’s.

The performance dates and more background info, videos and photos on the production here.

Photo by Michael Cooper showing Jennifer Holloway (Elvira), Sasha Djihanian (Zerlina) and Russell Braun (Don Giovanni) in “La ci darem la mano”.

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