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PARIS: Musically is the modern production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart´s opera Don Giovanni a victory for the chief conductor Philippe Jordan and for Petter Mattei in the titelrole as Don Giovanni at Opera Bastille. Visually a scandal.

Review by Henning Høholt. Photos by:  Charles Duprat , Opera de Paris.

à gauche :
David Bizic (Masetto)
Aleksandra Zamojska (Zerlina)
Peter Mattei (Don Giovanni). Photo: Charles Duprat

It is a privillige for a stage director and an operachief that they can make productions of good operas from the worlds most famouse composers, and then change it away from the original history, spite in often trying to keep the libretto, which then, unfortunately often is coming in conflict with what we do see on stage. But it has to be done with musicality, and intelligencce. Furthermore. To renew and modernice needs talent.

Such as for exempel the outstanding young Norwegian regissoer Stefan Herheim and his staff is doing, with their modernizing of operas, latest La Boheme,  Lulu, Tannhäuser, Julius Cæsar, Salome. And hopefully with the coming Die Meistersinger in Nürnberg in Paris. This group is working with talent and musicality.

Don Giovanni: Petter Mattei is kissing David Bizic (Leporello) when he wants him to continue working for him. Modern nice detail. Photo: Charles Duprat, Opera de Paris.

The case in this renewed production of Don Giovanni at Opera de Bastille, which is a revival from a production at Palais Garnier is, seen with my eyes, that it lacks of talent. It doesn´t has a good idea for wh y it is renewed, and therefore no mission, than just to make soemthing completely strange, or to try to update it to our day.s I looks like the history could be hoing in in our days, and like forexempel Rome ond Juliet it could, but then the music and the libretto is wrong. Critic colleagues of mine tells that it was working better at Palais Garnier, when it was premiered there in 2006. It was for the first time presented in this production at Opera Bastille in 2007.

Scenography. Photo: Charles Duprat, Opera de Paris.
Performances until 21 avril 2012

In this production I feel like being in a cold foyer of a hospital, or an office building, with a large all round window wall in the right side, giving us a look out to other  modern houses a cross an open place. In this scenography all the performance is going on,

The scenography by Christopher Kanter  is  NEVER functioning, so we understand what it is all about. Furthermore, as it often happens by opera productions at Opera de Paris the light, responsible André Didot,  is bad. It was not possible to see the faces and get an idea of the mimic, and in Don Giovanni and many other productions, mimic is importent, and specially, when it is in this very large operahall Bastille. The bad lighting is a seriouse complain, and the management will hopefully notice that for further productions, as this is not functioning.

If I see this production with other eyes, it has been a strong dramatically history about a young man, Don Giovanni, with too good a position in life, too much money, and a position,  and a  hunger for sex with girls, which does that he is non stop using his position to get what he wants. – With this point of view, I do observe that it has an idea. But then it would have been better to ask a contemporary composer to write a new opera, with music, whioch is uppdated, to the picture we see for our eyes. But then they would probobly not have got the posibility to get full houses, because in this case, it is Mozarts music, who are selling the tickets, not the new idea.  i dislike the missuse and spoiling of a beautiful opera.

However, as often mentioned. Musically it is of the very highest class at Opera de Paris. Petter Mattei has the most beautiful voice for Don Giovanni, and he looks good. I was not so happy for Patricia Petibon as Donna Anna, but her Don Ottavio, Bernard Richter was extraordinary good. Donna Elvira, sung by Vérinique Gens was best of the female roles. She has the little extra in her voice that Donna Elvira needs. Leporello was very well sung and played by David Bizic, and Il Coommendatire was in the best hands  by Paata Burchuladze, Zerlina was Gaëlle Arquez and Masetto Nahuel di Pierro.

Véronique Gens (Donna Elvira), Le Commandeur et à l'extrême droite : Patricia Petibon (Donna Anna). Photo: Charles Duprat.

As mentioned the scenography by Christoph Kanter was wrong, as it doesn´t give the right surroundings so the audience can understand the history. the costumes by Annette Beaufays, ordinary daily suits. Nothing to write home about. and hopeless light.  Furthermore the music is wrong for the modern outfit.

Some details were good. Staginng y the acting singers was made as a good theater production staged by Michael Haneke. When we try to see it as a modern history, which could have been from our days. Don Giovanni, Petter Mattei is kissing David Bizic (Leporello) when he wants him to continue working for him. It could have happend to day. A modern nice detail. The orchestra on stage in the final scene, how it came in, and shouldplay for the dinner, functioned well.  The funny details with Leporello eating discretely behind, was lost. But the backstage orchestra didn´t have any reason for being there, as we were not in such surroundings  where such events are going on. The wedding preparations for Masetto and Zerlina was not clear in the history, and the washing/cleaning people celebrating them didn´twork out. The funeral of the Commandant was lost, and to let it look like he was in a  sideroom, when he should arrive in the last act, didn´t work out. The party where DOn Giovanni shall run away with Zerlina didn´t function.

Specailly during the first act I was feeling that this was a scandal. However, during the second act I started to understand the history better, and in the end it became understandable from a modern view. And i Liked the last picture, with all the choire and the singers sitting around the window, and together singing the Epilogue,

Philippe Jordan has the right musically feeling, and together with his outstanding orchestra it works well, and with outstanding soloists in the orchestra.

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