08/12/2006 - 08/14, 16 and 18/2006
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni
Johannes Weisser (Don Giovanni), Marcos Fink (Leporello), Svetlana Doneva (Donna Anna), Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Donna Elvira), Sunhae Im (Zerlina), Nikolay Borcher (Masetto), Werner Güra (Don Ottavio), Alexander Guernazi (Il Commendatore), Vincent Boussard (Production), Freiburger Barochorchester, Innsbruck Festival Chorus, René Jacobs (conductor)
Of all Mozart Operas, Don Giovanni is among the most forwards looking orchestrally, the famous trio Don Giovanni – Leporello – Il Commendatore being quasi Beethovenian in nature and spirit. Could then a Baroque ensemble do full justice to the work ? The answer after yesterday’s performance is an unqualified yes. Tempis were swifter and sounds darker than what we may be used to, but in the end the artistic bet paid dividends.
The overall cast had few weaknesses: Voices were light, words were clear and ensembles were crisp. Veteran Marcos Fink knows his Leporello inside out and made the most out of the text, the rubato in his first aria being quite revelatory. Werner Güra, helped by Jacobs´s tempis, cut a stronger Don Ottavio than usual. Of the women, Sunhae Im was a spicy and energetic Zerlina with a lovely voice, Svetlana Doneva, obviously pregnant, displayed genuine elegance and Alexandrina Pendatchanska was a marvellous Donna Elvira.
The Don Giovanni was more problematic. Johannes Weisser is more of a „baritone di grazia“ with an easy top, rather than the usual swaggering bass-baritone we are used to. The production made him a rather passive character who looked surprised to realise that his sword could kill or that putting Leporello in the way of Elvira could give him leeway to avoid difficult explanations … In the end, this was a Don Giovanni lacking in vocal presence and stage personality. He should have benefited from more challenges from Vincent Boussard´s production. There were some ideas, stage and curtains were used with variety. There was nothing wrong, which is not so bad these days, but one could have asked for some more sophistication.
The evening however belonged to René Jacobs and his musicians. This was from start to finish a reading of authority, dramatic and full of life. Recitatives had freedom and naturalness. Tempis were personal, rather swift and always at the service of the theatrical side of work.
No one could say whether this Don Giovanni sounded like this at the time of Mozart, but no one, however, should doubt that he would have had a great time at this performance.