If you were, like me, to interested in what was happening in Hollywood on Sunday night, you might have missed out on the original screening of “Don Giovanni” on PBS. No worries. It is available on demand on the PBS website.
The full title of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s two-act opera is actually “The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni” so you know that our Don isn’t a gardener and won’t end up well. There is no happy ending for our Don, but justice.
The opera premiered in 1787 in Prague conducted by Mozart himself.
Don Giovanni (Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien) is a nobleman who pushes his privileged existence too far: he is not above forcing his attentions on damsels who are immune to his seduction and murder those who would stand in his way. His sullen servant, Leporello (bass Luca Pisaroni) catalogues his sexual victories by country: Italy, 640; Germany, 231; France, 100; Turkey, 91 and Spain, 1,003.
Giovanni fails to conquer Donna Anna (Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka), but murders her father (Stefan Kocán). Anna and her fiancé, Don Octtavio (tenor Ramón Vargas) seek justice, but one of Giovanni’s former loves, Donna Elvira (Barbara Frittoli) seeks revenge.
With hostess, Renée Fleming, this Met performance telecast was directed by Barbara Willis Sweete.
Kwiecien’s Giovanni isn’t a charming cad–he’s a black-hearted boy, sullen and selfish. We don’t really like him and find the women who fall for him quite foolish and so we aren’t at all upset when he finds he can’t escape from this phantom of the opera.
The production is rich and warm but a little dark in the serious tone of funeral black. Law and justice types will be satisfied and Kwiecien’s Giovanni isn’t a gothic romance hero who can be saved.
“Great Performances at the Met: Don Giovanni” is available on PBS.org on demand.