Friday 14 November 2008

Peter Sellars Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni. Film by Peter Sellars 1990. Cast: Eugene Perry (Don G), Herbert Perry (Leporello), Lorraine Hunt (Donna Elvira), Dominique Labelle (Donna Anna), Carroll Freeman (Ottavio), Ai Lan Zhu (Zerlina), Elmore James (Masetto), James Patterson (Commendatore). Conductor: Craig Smith with the Wiener Symphoniker. Aspect ratio 4:3. Further information here

Professional self-proclaimed provocateur Peter Sellars sets his 1990 Don Giovanni film in Spanish Harlem, New York City, in a ghetto setting, which works surprisingly well with reference to the original libretto: Don Ottavio as the under-cover police officer, Donna Anna double-crossing him (as well as being a heroine addict, shooting heroine during Non mi dir). Don Giovanni and Leporello are barely distinguishable from each other (they are played by twins as well) as low-life criminals. Furthermore it is very dark throughout.

The question is not whether this will be/was/is considered controversial but rather, if it works? The concept certainly is interesting, but as everything else it is a product of it´s time and thus a certain dusty atmosphere is almost inevitable. A matte of Zeitgeist, supposedly.

That said the singers are superb, especially the Perry Twins, but most of all Lorraine Hunt (Lieberson´s) as a superb Donna Elvira.

Don Giovanni - final scene:

The bottom line:

The Perry brothers: 4
Lorraine Hunt: 5
Dominique Labelle: 4
Carroll Freeman: 4
Ai Lan Zhu: 4
Elmore James: 4
James Patterson: 4

Peter Sellars: 3-4

Craig Smith: 4

Overall impression: 3-4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess that the opera fans who especially like the divas are
"heroine addicts."

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