Taken from a staging staged in November 2016, this Don Giovanni of Liège (reported to the time our colleague Christophe Rizoud) shows all the limits of the transposition of librettos in the contemporary world, this saw of opera stagings of the last 20 years. Six years ago, the world of finance, the sub-prime crisis could easily depict – without much fear of caricature and with a little imagination all the same – the quintessence of the depravity capable of generating excesses of Don Giovanni. Recovery today, after the wave #me too and while the news is occupied with much more serious things, this spectacle where a trading room in a large American bank alternates with a swimming pool where a few pleasantly naked nymphets are soaking, is singularly lacking in meaning and quickly sinks into ridicule.
What is most lacking here is the dramaturgy. We constantly wonder about the construction of the characters, about the relationships that should be established between them and that we don’t see coming, about the dramatic progression that the music suggests but that the staging ignores, and about the transposition of all this into the quirky universe chosen by the reckless designer of this show. Many scenes seem to have been the subject of no vision, as if the decor were enough, so that the singers, very often left to themselves, find themselves declaiming their tunes straight like i’s in the front. stage. And it is certainly not that the means were too sparingly counted: the gigantic and very beautiful scenic device (Vincent Lemaire), the swimming pool very subtly produced with video projections in a mirror placed at 45 degrees (but from which all the protagonists come out perfectly dry…), the strong lighting also succeeded, all of this must have been very expensive to arouse so little emotion . The idea of replacing the fires of hell with water from a swimming pool where Don Giovanni ends up drowned is hardly convincing. Of course, some details make you smile, such as the appearance on the screen of the countdown of Don Giovanni’s conquests in the air of the catalog or the use of a vaporizer as a gun, but many others annoy because they have already been seen and reviewed elsewhere, that they are not necessary, or simply irrelevant; the anecdote often diverts from the essential.
Davide Luciano (Don Giovanni) © J.Berger
What is the role of the three women who gravitate around the hero and what do they tell us that touches us? Where is the universal myth that has crossed the centuries and why? How can the incursion of the supernatural into the sanitized world of finance be justified? Where are the subversive, fascinating and metaphysical dimensions of the character of Don Juan and how does he progress inexorably from desire to death? Certainly, we are shown some very beautiful images, but all these questions remain unanswered and give rise to another: Jaco van Dormaelone of the figureheads of Belgian cinema from the 90s and who is not on his first foray into the world of opera, would he have tackled too big a piece here?
Musically, the satisfaction is not complete either. Under the very dynamic baton of Christophe Rousset, the orchestra shows very few colors, almost no transparency and seems engaged in a kind of sonic one-upmanship with the stage. The readability of the score suffers, especially in vocal ensembles which experience many small shifts and where all the work of staging the voices remains to be done.
The voice cast, without being top-notch, nevertheless offers the merit of a beautiful homogeneity. That is sure Maria Grazia Schiavo (Donna Anna) who presents the most accomplished work, closely followed by David Luciano in Don Giovanni. But with his mafioso airs, in the couple he forms with Leporello (the very distinguished and dynamic Laurent Kubla, only survivor of the cast of 2016), it is rather him who seems to be the valet of the other… We were not entirely seduced by the voice of Jose Maria Lo Monaco (Donna Elvira) who nevertheless has all the necessary technical qualities. Excellent performance on the other hand from Maxim Mironov in Don Ottavio, more virile, more seductive than usual, and who arouses great emotion both in his Della sua pace that in Il mio tesoro instanto perfectly dominated.
The Masetto of Pierre Doyen is also excellent while Sarah Defrize (Zerline), probably not in top form, is a bit behind. The brief intervention of Shadi Torbey in command gives complete satisfaction.
Great surprise, the show ends with the death of the hero. We therefore omit the very beautiful final chorus, the one that dictates the moral of the story, following in this a fairly common tradition in the 19th century and even still in the first years of the 20th century and aimed at a more abrupt conclusion to the drama, and therefore , more impressive to the viewer. Didn’t Mozart himself suppress this chorus in performances in Vienna in 1788?
Article modified at 09:20 on 16.05.22: correction error on the continuo
We wish to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this incredible material
Too big a piece? | Forum Opera
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