Don't you wish you could have it all? Sometimes I do, and most of the time Don Giovanni does. Mozart's opera, in a lively new production by the Polish director Mariusz Trelinski and his collaborators, plays at the Los Angeles Music Center to June 22nd. This is really delightful Mozart, with a smarmy Don Juan at the center of it. But still, I kept thinking, during the opening night performance, of the old Jonath Miller production that had last been revived about four years ago.
Checking my notes, I had called that production "lugubrious" and "monolithic", with its dark grey set, dim lighting and cast more noted for its vocal ability than acting skills. This production is its complete antithesis, sprightly, witty, bouncy, clever and thoroughly enjoyable. So what's lacking?
In turning Mozart's (and his librettist Lorenzo DaPonte's) opera into a post-modernist romp, some, if not most of Don Giovanni's humanity gets lost in the mix. This is partly because of budding super-star Erwin Schrott's portrayal of the Don as a lounge lizard, but also because the three woman, Anna Christy as Zerlin, Adina Nitescu as Donna Elvira, and especially Andrea Rost as Donna Anna are robbed of their dignity by their silly costumes and antics. This Don Juan doesn't so much deserve eternal damnation as just some sensitivity training and after school detention.
Still, like I say, its thoroughly enjoyable, with Rosendo Flores as the beleaguered servant, Leporello; John Matz as a monastic Don Ottavio; and James Creswell (Masetto) and Fedor Kuznetsov (Commendatore) rounding out the cast. Kent Nagano conducted the ever-improving orchestra with his usual aplomb.
DON GIOVANNI continues at the Music Center until June 22. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, L.A. Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave. Los Angeles. 213 365 3500, 213 972 8001 www.losangelesopera.com
This is Louis Fantasia for KCRW.
James C. Taylor