Not only do we get a visual feast, but the singers are incredible, fleshing out the dramatic core of this opera and even delivering moments of genuine beauty and splendor. It stars Ruggero Raimondi as the seductive and sinister Don Giovanni, Edda Moser as Dona Anna, Kenneth Reigle as Don Ottavio, Jose Van Dam as Leporello, Kiri Te Kenawa as Dona Elvira, Teresa Berganza as Zerlina, Malcolm King as Masetto and John Macurdy as the Commandatore. In a minor/silent but seemingly important role as a servant in black is the youthful-looking Eric Adjani. The multiple dimensions of this film are too much to talk about but I will try to highlight some of them.
First of all, Lorin Maazel as conductor is perfect. He brings out the dramatic content without sacrificing the melodic beauty Mozart wrote into the opera. The cinematography is gorgeous. It was shot in Venice (during the Overture we see the canals and opulent boats), Vicenza the countryside, crowned by Italian villas and palaces the Villa Rotunda is dismissed as a historic Italian landmark and becomes Don Giovanni's regal estate, and some indoors scenes were shot in the interior of the Olympic Theatre. Most of the movie is shot in fresh natural sunlight or moonlight. The powerful performances by the lead singers is extraordinary and each bring a colorful and individual portrayal. Ruggero Raimondi is a rare breed of "high" bass, capable of producing masculine chest voice but also a radiant, tenor-like top register. He is seductive but devilish in his portrayal. His eyes, especially, seem to give away his dark predatory soul. In Raimondi, we have one of the best Don Giovanni interpretations. He's lewd, he's lusty, he's murderous, he's a shameless libertine whose motto is "Viva La Liberta!" Long live liberty!
The film has subtle symbolism and poetic imagery. For instance, during the Catalog Aria that Leporello sings to Elvira, he reads from a seemingly unending list in which the Don has written his conquests, a list that goes on and on, draping the stairs and rolling to the road toward the villa. During the Seduction duet "La Ci Darem La Mano" we briefly glimpse a huge Crucifix and we see a dog sleeping. These I took to represent the ethic and morals that Zerlina would compromise if she succumbed to the Don's passions- she would betray her Catholic faith by breaking her engagement with Masetto and being unfaithful unlike the faithful man's best friend the dog. Also, the Commandatore is evidently foreshadowing his vengeance on the Don as he is dying, when he is pointing at the Don.
The complex Dona Ana' dilemma: she is possibly lusting after the Don and attempting to fight off her own desire for him and keep faithful to Ottavio. Whom is she mourning really when Don Giovanni is sent to Hell ? She is always claiming that she mourns her father's death but yet as soon as she hears that the Don has been sent to Hell, she postpones the wedding to Ottavio for another year. Very odd. Eric Adjani is the silent and mute strange servant in black. Who is this person ? Who's side is he on ? He is evidently one of the Don's many servants but during the Overture he is looking knowingly at Dona Ana as the fire furnace is being installed in the Don's home. Also, during the scary scene in which the Commandatore statue comes to dinner, this shady character shows no sign of being frightened and in fact one feels that he is in on it somehow, as if he is an avenging angel as well. He seems to have knowledge of something the audience doesn't know and his personage both opens and closes the opera literally as he closes the doors to the Don's villa.
Edda Moser portrays a supremely dramatic Dona Anna. She is Wagnerian in her dynamic performance, a steely victim, a wronged woman who seeks revenge on a man we also feel she might possibly be attracted to, mainly because her fiancé, Kenneth Reigle's Ottavio, is so lackluster and dull. Now, I admire and love Kiri Te Kenawa in various other roles- she is the definitive heroine in Cappricio and perhaps even the most definitive Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte and a rather touching Countess in Figaro, but as Dona Elvira she lacks the fire and fury that is so vital to the role. Dona Elvira is the most Italianate heroine in the opera and she has arias and lines which focus on her feisty and fiery temperament. Kiri sings gorgeously but her emphasis is on the beauty and consequently comes off as too noble, too majestic and dignified. She should be outraged and obsessive, wanting more than anything to get back at Don Giovanni as well as to land him for herself. But Kiri does not show us any of this necessary dramatics.
Teresa Berganza is an adorable Zerlina, cute and clever. Note how she is almost tempted to run off with the Don but wises up and decides to stay with her fiancé Masetto when she realizes Don Giovanni is a devil. Berganza is actually my first choice for the best Zerlina. Malcolm King, who is sexy as hell, is equally adorable as Masetto, especially when we see how jealous and easily provoked he is. Finally, Jose Van Dam as Leporello is quite good, especially because he's not just a loyal "idiot". He's in fact true to Mozart's concept of Leporello- a servant who is wiser than his master. Van Dam captures the noble spirit of Masetto, who is just a pawn to his master's schemes, but who on his own would definitely be on the side of the good guys.
Drama / Music
Drama / Music
Screen adapatation of Mozart's greatest opera. Don Giovanni, the infamous womanizer, makes one conquest after another until the ghost of Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore, (whom Giovanni killed) makes his appearance. He offers Giovanni one last chance to repent for his multitudinious improprieties. He will not change his ways So, he is sucked down into hell by evil spirits. High drama, hysterical comedy, magnificent music! —
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
August 22, 2021 at 05:38 AM