Mozart wrote Don Giovanni for a Prague premiere in 1787; when he brought the production to Vienna he had a new cast to consider and made some changes. Perhaps he wanted to please these house favorites or exploit their gifts. He added a comic scene in Act II for Zerlina and Leporello who is tied to a chair; he expanded Donna Elvira’s grand scena; he wrote “Dalla sua pace” to replace “Il Mio Tesoro”. According to Stephen Wadsworth who directed the fine Don Giovanni just seen at Juilliard, there is even evidence that the epilogue, in which the morality of the piece is reiterated and the characters announce their future intentions, was occasionally omitted. Truth be told, we were surprised and delighted by the addition of the Zerlina-Leporello scene (which we had never seen before), largely due to the sprightly talent of the adorable soprano Ying Fang and the comic gifts of baritone Alexander Hajek. But we sorely missed “Il Mio Tesoro” (being greedy, we want both tenor arias) and felt that the ending, while very well-staged, seemed abrupt. We do understand that this a a long opera and that no edition is considered set in concrete.
cast, mostly students in the Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at
Juilliard, sang and acted with great distinction, as is generally the
case. Baritone Jeongcheol Cha made a splendid Don and created an
anti-hero of some complexity. As a matter of fact, all the characters
were more complex than is usually seen, which must be attributed to the
fine direction. Leporello was not just comic foil to the Don but
seethed with the Rage of the Abused just under the surface. Donna
Elvira, as portrayed by the lovely soprano Devon Guthrie, was not just a
whiny victim but seemed a fierce champion of her gender and even took
up sword at one point! The soprano Karen Vuong used her brilliant
soprano to great advantage as Donna Anna and, as her fiancé Don Ottavio, sweet-voiced tenor Yujoong Kim managed to avoid the cliché of wimpiness. Soprano Ying Fang created a wily yet tender Zerlina who grows in dimension as the story unfolds. Her sposo Masetto, as performed by baritone Takaoki Onishi also avoided the clichés to which we are generally exposed and made us care about his character.
loan from the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, bass Ryan
Speedo Green impressed us mightily as The Comendatore. He sang and
acted with great authority. In the graveyard he is seated but when he
enters Don Giovanni’s dining hall he grabs Don G and pulls him off to
hell. Again, let it be noted that the cliché of
falling through a trapdoor with flames emerging was wisely avoided.
Mr. Wadsworth’s direction illustrated how one can take an old war horse
and make it fresh, without resorting to elaborate sets and without
imposing ridiculous concepts.
simple but effective sets were designed by Charlie Corcoran; the
costumes, designed by Camille Assaf were lovely and true to the time and
place. Choreography by Jeanne Slater added much to the party scene.
Thor Wedow led the youthful orchestra without a baton and used his
hands to shape the music. At no time did the intensity and forward
movement flag. Elllliot Figg played the harpsichord with a lovely
delicate touch. It was another fine evening thanks to the amazing folks
© meche kroop