A production of Rhombus Media
with 13/WNET, Bravo, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC Records
Created & directed by:
Barbara Willis Sweete
pulls off a baritone's dream
of a double role...
as Don Giovanni/Leporello in a PBS
debonair Russian baritone, Dmitri
Hvorostovsky, is both Leporello and Don Giovanni, both servant
and master, in this clever and provocative one-hour fantasy
film-within-a film adaptation of Mozart's 1787 masterpiece. Photo:
Cylla von Tiedemann
is transported into a 1930's screening room where, standing tuxedo-clad
before the opera cast, he sings both of his misery in servitude to the abusive
Don Giovanni and of his wish to become the philandering Don. On the screen
behind him, he
gets his wish --- a black-and
white-film unreels, showing the Don en masqueala Zorro, mired
in his licentiousness and in the end unmasked to be - surprise?? - who else
but Leporello! His fantasy of servant-become-master is realized to the blazing
end, where the unrepentant Don is dragged down, and Leporello falls, into
the fiery chasm of hell.
TV film is director Barbara Willis Sweete's sweet fantasy as
well, perhaps hertake
on that scene in Act II of the opera where Don Giovanni, consummate
libertine (and accidental killer), swaps clothes with Leporello
so he can carry on with his paramour's maid in the guise of
his manservant. Well-made, clever, and engaging, the film distills
into one hour the essence of Don Giovanni as both serio-comic
opera and morality play (murder and profligacy do not go unpunished!)
in a format that gives occasion for one baritone to sing two
of opera's dream baritone roles not only in the same show but
in the same scenes.
Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann
And of course,
the consummate baritone, in his first film role, rises to the occasion.
The camera zooms in on both his vocal gifts and his acting talent
to great effect, proving beyond a doubt that he is a natural singer
and actor. Fans are treated to an hour of pure Hvorostovsky, or almost
pure - as Don Giovanni must of course share the stage/film not only
with his manservant but also with his willing (Donna Anna, Donna
Elvira, and Zerlina) and unwilling (the Commendatore) victims.
If you're "washed," all you have to do is be open-minded,
and then just sit back and enjoy. And even if you're "unwashed,"
brush up a bit on the erotic adventures of Don Juan, and you'll very
likely enjoy the hour. And, who knows? perhaps you'll be seduced to
like opera as much as we do. - GJ/FanFaire
Don GIovanni is well on its
way to becoming one of Dmitri
Hvorostovsky's signature roles. He sang it to acclaim
at the San Francisco Opera
in 2000 (click HERE for a production
photo) and premiered the role in a new production at the 1999 Salzburg Festival.
Here's the rest of the cast: Gary Relyea* - Commendatore, Dominique LaBelle
- Donna Anna, Barbara Dunn Prosser - Donna Elvira (sung by Liesel Fedkenheuer)
, Krisztina Szabo - Zerlina, Michael Colvin - Don Ottavio, Alain Coulomb
- Masetto, and Florence Illi - the maid. Richard Bradshaw conducts the Canadian
Opera Company Orchestra
for a short Hvorostovsky bio, HERE
for a discography, and HERE
for a list of the arias and musical highlights.
* Father of FanFaire featured artist, bass-baritone John
Relyea - yes, music does run in the family!