First of all, Ildar Abdrazakov, a bass from Russia, is amazing as Don Giovanni. Not only is his voice very, very strong, his acting was very good and he captured the swaggering, violent charisma of Giovanni, as well as the oddly principled nature of his existence (which allows the character’s final choice to seem organic). He really understood the intersection of the frequently light, almost breezily comic, music with the darker themes thudding just below surface. Don Giovanni is frequently described as the greatest opera ever written and, without diving into that debate, Abdrazakov was great platform for someone looking to make that argument.

Meagan Miller, who sang Donna Ana, had a throat infection, but the only affect was that her voice was always penetrating and was a little reedy during an emotional scene with Don Ottavio early in the first act.

It was a big production, as befits the season’s centerpiece, and a very physical one.

Swordfights and brawls were acted out with the kind of vigor more common to productions of Shakespeare than Mozart and Giovanni was aggressively physical with his libidinous targets; I don’t think I’ve very seen so many breasts so openly manhandled in an opera before.

But it didn’t all work. Donna Elvira was given a corset-style top and often wore pants and always wore a sort of light, flowing coat. It was anything but demure and while it did express her sexuality, it also made her seem too much the sartorial equivalent of Giovanni’s equal. Her bold steps across the stage were too aggressive for the character, at least too much for my taste. I could see that the director was trying for something, but I don’t think it quite came off.

Andrew Foster-Williams as Leporello deserves credit for his acting and for standing toe to toe with Giovanni in so many scenes. I can imagine it being a tough role; it’s not the lead, but shares a lot of physical and vocal space with one of the most powerful roles in opera and he hit the right balance in his portrayal of Don Giovanni’s (mostly) faithful servant.

One thought on “Don Giovanni At The Washington National Opera

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