|Parasite or political protestor? Don G. on the margins.|
Photo © Staatstheater Mainz/Martina Pipprich
|Donna Anna defends her honor © Staatstheater Mainz/Pipprich|
What mixture of desire and denial, constraint and compassion, drives Donna Elvira to follow Don Giovanni to Seville? The production didn't fully answer these questions, but it made an interesting attempt. Patricia Roach sang strongly, if with sometimes wayward intonation; her Elvira is entitled, and deeply conservative (as suggested not only by her use of her aide, but the way in which she uses her pregnancy as a bargaining chip with Don Giovanni and with any other audience she can find.) As Thorsten Büttner's bright lyric tenor is a bigger voice than usual for Don Ottavio, but he seemed to fit the role well, vocally and dramatically. He acquitted himself well (and with ornamentation, as well as precision) in both arias, making of "Il mio tesoro" a dramatic tour de force. Tatiana Charalgina sang Donna Anna so well that it was easy to forget how demanding a role it is. Hers was a Donna Anna of smooth tone and steely determination. Hans-Otto Weiß and Heikki Kilpeläinen made a charismatic duo as Leporello and Don Giovanni; here both enigmatic, but unmistakably the main characters. Weiß' warm bass-baritone and nuanced acting made much of Leporello, whose documentation of Don Giovanni's catalog is a byproduct of his filming everything, creating an alternative narrative to that of the policed press. The friendship of the two men is more conspicuous than the servant-master dynamic. Leporello's emulation is, of course, problematic; but it seems unusually sincere. Each of them idealizes the other, imagining the freedom afforded by the other's social status. As should be clear from this, both singers handled recitative vividly. Kilpeläinen sang a bold, brash Don Giovanni, convincing as a man of insatiable and barbarous appetite; compelling as a man who defies apparently-certain death in the first, as well as the last scene. (His defiance of the living Commendatore is made with two machine guns aimed at his skull and a boot in the small of his back; in the finale, his defiance is made as he writhes under the torture of the same thugs in different pay.) The fierce delivery of the champagne aria made of it another defiance--as indeed it is--while Don Giovanni's more sensual moments ("Deh, vieni"; "Là ci darem") are here almost entirely cynical. As he strolled triumphantly off-stage at the end, I was left with a question: for whom is the liberty of the libertine a victory?