As for Don Giovanni, I attended a performance at the Disney Concert Hall last Friday with the LA Phil. The orchestra was good, the singers were good, the production was terrible. The set looked like someone had crumpled giant wads of paper all around, which in and of itself wouldn’t have been too bad – if they’d let the singers act out the story that goes with what they’re singing. But nooooo. Very little of what they did on stage seemed to have anything to do with the story. Even worse, they moved in super-slow-motion or stood around frozen in place, or randomly lay down for entire scenes. Okay, folks. Don Giovanni is a long opera. Do not make it bloody interminable by deliberately slowing the action down even more. I mean I know the opera, I know the story, and I know a fair bit of the libretto. It’s the one Mozart opera I’m rather fond of because it has action – murder, a couple assaults, an avenging statue, very funny exchanges between characters, and the lead character goes to Hell in the end. And when I’m bored, you know the artsy and ridiculously static production ain’t working. And I wasn’t alone in that opinion apparently, as after act one ended, quite a lot of seats were empty for act two. People were bailing out while the getting was good. Unfortunate, because the singers really were good. But opera is neither just music nor just story – it’s both and more, and it all has to work together. I don’t mind operas updated to modern or different time periods, but this was something else entirely.
(yes, please, sit around on boxes doing nothing. And why are so many characters dressed in white on a white stage? Are they supposed to blend in and vanish? Grrr.)
But, it put the music back in my head, so I’ve been listening to my Simon Keenlyside recording and watching better versions on youtube. And when opera is stuck in my head, I have a hard time watching movies. Although The Avengers is oddly compatible with Don Giovanni, so this combo has been working for me. I alternate listening to Alan Silvestri's score for the movie, and then listening to my favorite scenes from the opera... Yeah, it's pretty weird, but it works.