Argentina Mozart, Don Giovanni: Buenos AiresLírica. Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Buenos AiresLírica,Conductor:Pedro-Pablo Prudencio. Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires. 22.8.2014. (JSJ)
Don Giovanni: Nahuel Di Pierro
Donna Anna: Oriana Favaro
Leporello: Iván García
Donna Elvira: Victoria Gaeta
Don Ottavio: Santiago Bürgi
Masetto: Mariano Fernández Bustinza
Zerlina: Cecilia Pastawski
Commendatore: Hernán Iturralde
Director: Marcelo Lombardero
Sets: Diego Siliano
Costumes: Luciana Gutman
Lighting: Horacio Efrón
Chorus: Juan Casasbellas
In the last five years writing for Seen & Heard International Don Giovanni is now the opera seen most often in Buenos Aires. Buenos AiresLírica itself put on a production in 2008, leading the company’s president Frank Marmorek, at the launch of the current season, to comment that the director, Marcelo Lombardero, felt he had something different to say.
And he certainly has – if you don’t mind the traditional view of Don Giovanni as a noble seducer being turned on its head. With names such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former head of the IMF, and former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi being mentioned in his conception, Lombardero’s Don Giovanni is no gentleman but a modern day cocaine snorting sexual predator, and violator of women.
Alongside him Leporello is off the street and somewhat out of his depth, Donna Elvira a shrewish and tarty lady who likes her cellphone, Zerlina perhaps a hostess and Masetto appropriately brutish – indeed the only seemingly normal pair are Don Ottavio and Donna Anna, along with the soon deceased Commendatore, who at the dinner one sees in a projection relishing his leading on of Giovanni.
Unexpectedly perhaps this worked well, not least because of its realism, with every detail consistent and flowing, drawing one into a seedy underworld of debauchery and excess. The well-conceived scenery also helped, with a two-tier structure enabling rapid transition between different worlds, such as from Donna Anna’s bedroom to the external courtyard, or from the interior to exterior of Don Giovanni’s house.
A capable cast, with some unfamiliar faces, also contributed to the production’s overall impact, including Argentine Nahuel Di Pierro as Don Giovanni, apparently a regular Masetto in Europe, where he spends most of his time, and Venezuelan bass Iván García as Leporello.
Chilean Pedro-Pablo Prudencio offered an energetic reading and the chorus was well prepared. Leaving just the recitative that just didn’t quite match up, which to give a sense of conversational realism was in an uneven mix of whispering (inaudible), talking and singing.
But one thing is sure, after this production, Don Giovanni’s reputation will never be quite the same as before!
Jonathan Spencer Jones