Mozart: Don Giovanni [Opera Australia] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Opera Australia
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 26, 2012
- List Price: $39.99
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Perhaps one of Mozart’s most iconic operas, Don Giovanni has been well represented in both DVD and BD formats, so any new production faces some pretty stiff competition. The obvious rationale for this disc is the promotion of Teddy Tahu Rhodes, the down-under’s answer to a sex symbol in today’s opera world. The majority of the cast consists of local singers. The news, however, is a mixed bag. Bass-baritone Rhodes has a suave and sonorous voice but his Don is rather one-dimensional, long on machismo and short on subtlety or guile. He is garbed out like a heavy metal rock-star, an unveiled attempt to exploit his sexuality, although he is burdened with a bad wig. The remainder of the cast features a likeable albeit bland Don Ottavio (tenor Henry Choo), a beguiling and mostly en pointe Donna Anna (soprano Rachella Durkin), a perky Zerlina (soprano Taryn Fiebig) and some casting miscalculations, specifically the less than note perfect Donna Elvira of mezzo Jacqueline Dark, and the seriously overparted Leporello (bass-baritone Conal Coad). The single versatile set and the costumes are generally period-specific,
From a musical and dramatic standpoint, this is a Don Giovanni that would be more at home in a provincial opera house than in a major one. Maestro Mark Wigglesworth marks time adequately while not investing the proceedings with much of Mozart’s intended drama. Wigglesworth does keep his forces in line with decent support for the singers.
As is customary with Opera Australia Blu-rays, the videography is excellent. This is a dark opera and the camera work avoids too many overtones while giving discrete close-ups of the principals. Detail and color palette are also first-rate.
Balance between orchestra and singers is quite good, important in Mozart works since the libretto is critical to the impact of the opera. This works to the advantage of most of the principals, the exceptions being the lackluster portrayals of Leporello by Conal Coad who seemed well past his sell-by date and an anonymous show up by Andrew Jones as Masetto.
There is a mini-documentary on “surviving” Don Giovanni, accompanied by trailers.
The Definitive Word
Don Giovanni is one of my favorite operas and, working to the disadvantage of this production, is the significant height of the bar already set by previous recorded live performances. Bass-baritone Rhodes is certainly an attractive stage presence with a rich, resonant voice. If looks alone could kill, TTR (as he is known to his Land of Oz fans) would qualify as a mass murderer. However, in comparison with some previous blu-ray Dons (Simon Keenlyside, Christopher Maltman, Carlos Alvarez), and don’t get me started on the DVD list, his portrayal lacks depth and variety of mood, mostly noticeable in the area of Giovanni’s “lighter side.” His supporting cast is variable as previously noted, with the most serious deficiency being sidekick Leporello. The musical leadership is rather routine, seeming more by the metronome than by inner spirit of the opera. As there are several better BD Don Giovannis out there, with doubtless more to come, this one will not get much eye play in my home theater.
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