Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni was first performed on October 29, 1787 at the Gräflich Nöstitz'sches Nationaltheater in Prague. On May 14, 2005, some 218 years later, Edward F. Nesta and I went to see Don Giovanni performed by the Connecticut Grand Opera & Orchestra at the Palace Theatre in Stamford, Connecticut with our friends, Michael and Mimika Blanc. After being in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart (he was born on January 27, 1756) in March 2005, we thought that it would be a lovely reminder of our short trip to Austria, and indeed it was, although it was not quite what we had expected.
Mozart composed his opera, Don Giovanni, late in his life in 1787 (he died four years later on December 5, 1791 in Vienna). The opera is set in Spain, and is the story about the central character Don Giovanni, who is a young nobleman and an irrepressible ladies man, and how whose actions affect the lives around him, including a murder and the issue of retribution and hell. The music is as powerful as the theme of the opera.
The talented cast included the baritone Michael Chioldi in the lead role of Don Giovanni, the bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo as Leporello, the soprano Caroline Worra as Donna Anna, the soprano Cristina Castaldi as Donna Elvira, the tenor Tyler Clark as Don Ottavio, the soprano Roseanne Ackerley as Zerlina, the bass John Macurdy as Commendatore, the baritone Kenneth Overton as Masetto, conducted by Laurence Gilgore and directed by James de Blasis.
Don Giovanni in the hands of Director James de Blasis takes on a new modernity though, with a minimalist stage set with a white ladder, white benches and white tables, which are moved around and reconfigured in each of the scenes, and instead of the characters wearing period-appropriate clothing, they wear modern dress with a few exceptions, where the central character of Donna Elvira, a young woman seduced and discarded by Don Giovanni, flirts with a red parasol or wears a red shawl, as the only reference to the period. Mr. de Blasis, whose wife Ruth, refers to him as a “Traditional Non-Traditionalist”, maintained the integrity of the opera, but I missed the grand-scale stage settings, the wigs, the elaborate period costumes, that for me at least, is what I usually associate with opera – which is the over-the-top lavishness pageantry of the productions.
Although the opera was not quite what I had expected when I entered the theatre, I left the theatre satisfied with the production, and it seemed that the rest of audience did as well, as they enthusiastically called out “Bravo” at the conclusion of the performance. I think that Mozart would be pleased that his opera is still being so well received some 218 years later, even if it has taken on a new modern guise. That is the true testament to the incredible genius and staying power of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
For information on Salzburg, please visit: Salzburg Tourism Office. You may also read about Salzburg in the Destinations section.
© June 2005. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.