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2005, Tokyo, Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni

2005DonGiovanniTokyo

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Librettist: Lorenzo da Ponte
Venue and Dates: Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo
4, 6, 8 October 2005
Conductor: Kazushi Ono
Director: David McVicar
Sets & Costumes: John Macfarlane
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton

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Performers:
Don Giovanni: Simon Keenlyside
Leporello: Petri Lindroos
Donna Anna: Carmela Remigio
Donna Elvira: Martina Serafin
Don Ottavio: Jorg Schneider (Rainer Trost was ill)
Commendatore: Alessandro Guerzoni
Zerlina: Sophie Karthauser
Masetto: Ugo Guagliardo
Orchestra/Choir of La Monnaie De Munt

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Notes: The same production as staged in 2003 by Theatre Royale de La Monnaie, Brussels. A co-production with San Francisco Opera, in collaboration with Grand Théâtre de la ville de Luxembourg and Opéra de Lille.

Click on the two options below to see video clips from this production.

“La ci darem la mano”

http://www.music.co.jp/classicnews/ram-file/2004/k_ohno3-041227.ram

Compilation (needing Macromedia Flash Player 6 or more)

http://eee.eplus.co.jp/MV/0509/031/

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Soundbites

The Japanese classical music magazine “Ongaku no tomo” (February 2006) has announced “The top 10 concerts 2005 (in Japan) chosen by critics and journalists”. The La Monnaie “Don Giovanni” ranked second.

Kazunobu Yasuda for The Yomiuri Shimbun, 11 October 2005.

Translated by Sami

Don Giovanni, The Royal Opera House of Belgium, 4 October, Orchard Hall, Shibuya.
Well-Polished Directing, Casting and Conducting

I watched the first performance of Don Giovanni by Mozart by the Royal Opera House of Belgium (La Monnaie), which is visiting Japan for the first time. It is a touring production premiered in 2003 and directed by David McVicar.

The direction in particular is superbly done. There is no bright light even at the dinner, using simple stagings, which do not stick to the original settings. A number of human corpses are randomly placed on the front of the stage, which forbid spectators to escape from the word ‘Memento Mori’, even in comical scenes.

On the stage, Don Giovanni, a prodigal aristocrat, never stops considering death, so even the famous serenade ominously sounds as if it is praising a desire for death. Compared to the title role, other figures are not aware of their mortal lives, therefore when they enjoy the usual, moral-based happy-ending, audiences are left with a strong feeling of irony. The side of an unfunny comedy, the silliness of living humans’ tendency to forget the death, is stressed.

Casting is exactly ‘the right man in the right place’. Especially Simon Keenlyside in the title role shows brilliant skills both in singing and acting. Calmera Remigio, in the role of Donna Anna, has a bit of a light voice (for the role), but entertains the audience by showing a superb coloratura in her second act’s aria. Sophie Kalthauser as Zerlina is wonderfully lively in singing and movements as a flighty village-girl.

The conducting of Kazushi Ono, the musical director of the opera house, shows a talkative reading of the piece. He cleverly uses ‘period play style’, which is the trend in performing period pieces, and a variety in styles of expression is particularly impressive. Although there were minor mistakes as is usual with the first night, it is a well-polished performance as a whole.

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Photo by Shinji Takehara

“Don Giovanni”, The Royal Opera House of Belgium

Life and Decay, A Brilliant Mixture

by Akio Okada, a musicologist.

Translated by Sami

The programme was the sensational 2003 new production of “Don Giovanni” from the Royal Opera House of Belgium, newly interpreted by its musical director Kazushi Ono, (on the 4th, at Orchard Hall, Tokyo). The most outstanding point in tonight’s staging was the quality of singers.

They were rising young singers not widely known yet, but likely to be stars in future; starting with Simon Keenlyside, who sang the title role, Martina Serafin as Elvira, Alessandro Guerzoni as the Commendatore, Jorg Schneider, standing in as Ottavio, and so on. It is a quite rare occasion when we can listen to “Don Giovannni” in such a faultless casting.

The staging of an esteemed young director David McVicar was also fresh and vivid. Sets were bluntly simple, and scarcely any colour other than black was used, but occasional strong white lights from the back of the stage created a bloody image of death. Then, the drama, which developed in this black-and-white world throughout, flamed in scarlet in the down-to-the-Hell part of the final scene.

What makes it impressive was that this scarlet looked like the metaphor of both “blood” and “decay of flesh”. The main character did not fall down to Hell as is usual in productions. His dead body was thrown out on the skull-scattered roadside, and remained lying there until the final happy-ending moment. A miserable death, like a worm, without worth. Just like the “Danse Macabre” of the middle age, life mingled with death. I noticed the possibility of this kind of reading [of the drama] for the first time.

The orchestra was fine too, especially the silk-like textures in expressions similar to chamber music, and the vivid colouring of woodwinds were good. However, the conducting of Ono was so polite that I felt it was too methodical when compared to the size of this gigantic work. His conducting was not [strong] enough to depict the threatening elements, such as a tragedy turning into an endless practical joke, or a hole of demoniac depth waiting in the middle of a comedy. In addition, I want more breathtaking freshness in the scene-changing moments in music. I will wait for an additional maturity of relationships between the orchestra (and Ono) [to develop] this point.

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The Nihon Keizai Shimbun , 17 October 2005,

‘Don GIovanni’, Opera La Monnaie, conducted by Kazushi Ono:

The World of the Night, presented in Modern Style
by Ryuichi Higuchi, a music critic

Translated by Sami.

I listened to ‘Don Giovanni’ by the Royal Opera House of Belgium (La Monnaie), where Kazushi Ono acts as the musical director, at Orchard Hall on 4th (of October).

As soon as Overture began, I was surprised by its eighteenth-century-like light sound. They used period instruments in the brass section., and the timpani were also smaller as they were at that time, and had pleasantly dry sound.

The director was David McVicar. Thrilling acting was effective in a black-based stage which symbolised the night world. Because this scandalous opera starts with an attempted rape and a murder of a woman’s father, the similarities to action films were interesting too.

At first, Ono’s conducting couldn’t create a flow, since his emotion jumped [faster than] the music. However, after a break, he settled down in the second act, and began to create the sound he wanted. I can understand his first night tenseness, [since] it was his return-in-triumph production with a great opera house. The soloists were relatively uniformly good. Especially Carmela Remigio who sang Donna Anna was fantastic, she had a noble voice and impeccable singing. The role of Donna Elvira was [sung by] Martina Selafin. [She has a] rich voice and a good quality of singing, but failed to express the sadness of a woman who cannot stop loving Don Giovanni while pointing out his vices.

Simon Keenlyside played the title role of Don Giovanni, as best he could. His speedy sword fighting was stunning, but his essential singing had unstable points, especially in the first act. [Translator’s note: this was the opening night performance in which he forgot to sing a line in ‘La ci darem la mano’, so there’s some justice in this criticism.] The servant Leporello was Petri Lindroos. He could have emphasised more the difference of his character from his master. As a whole, ensemble was not bad, but if they could have added a bigger flow [produced a faster pace?], more dramatic expression would have been possible.

DonGiovanniTokyo2005Photo: K. Miura

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