Friday, June 11, 2010

Don Giovanni - Or sai che orrore

Don Giovanni, Théatre des Champs-Elysées, June 9 2010

Jean-Claude Malgoire conductor
Pierre Constant director

Nicolas Rivenq  Don Giovanni
Laurent Naouri  Leporello
François Lis Il Commendatore
Donàt Havàr  Don Ottavio
Sandrine Piau  Donna Anna
Véronique Gens  Marie-Camille Vaquié  Donna Elvira
Ingrid Perruche  Zerlina
Christian Helmer  Masetto

La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy
Ensemble Vocal de l'Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing

The other night I saw Cosi fan Tutte and was disappointed by the staging, the orchestra and its conductor.  How to explain why I went to see  Don Giovanni presented by the same team? Don Giovanni is one of my favorite operas, and  I was too curious to resist temptation -- forgetting that curiosity can also kill the cat ;)

My first bad surprise came right before the show started, when the announcer said that Véronique Gens was absent and her replacement, Marie-Camille Vaquié, would be our tonight's Donna Elvira. Marie-Camille was good, but I so much wanted to hear Véronique who is still one the best Donna Elviras in the business, so I was naturally disappointed.  

As for the rest of the show, I desperately looked for a good thing to try and stay positive. Happily there was one: Sandrine Piau made her debut in the role of Donna Anna. I didn't believe she would pull it off as I thought Donna Anna should be more vindicative- and fierce-sounding, which is not precisely what you'd expect from Sandrine Piau. In the end I have to give it to her:  she attacked the role cleverly, sang carefully before arriving to her main aria "Or sai chi l'onore" which she delivered with brio. The rest of her Donna Anna was really good too, and she was clearly above the rest of the cast.

On the other hand, the orchestration and direction looked/sounded pale and uninspiring for the most part. The staging looked like if the production time-traveled from 1960's or 1970's to 2010. The French TV made a buzz (see video below) that apparently worked well and many newbies, who came to see the show, were  convinced to have seen a great show and tried to look enthusiastic and happy... Too bad for me feeling  "miserable" during and after this miserable Don Giovanni... I wish there was Don Giovanni for Dummies to recommend it to this production team.

While Cosi Fan Tutte was scenically really bad, this Don Giovanni was a wee better in that respect, but vocally it was levels below the standards of singing you you get at Théatre des Champs-Elysées.

Oh yes, one more thing: when you need a good tenor you could google and find for example Jonathan Boyd, a superb singer who doesn't seem to be extremely busy these days... 

I hope I'm not being too harsh, and to avoid dissecting this production to pieces, I better stop here.

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