Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boston Marriages Always End Badly

Finally, a bass who deserves to wear leather pants.
Don Giovanni is Mozart's opera about longsuffering bottom Leporello, and his womanizing companion/BFF/boss, Don Giovanni, who, despite repeated inducements and warnings, steadfastly refuses to ditch the bitch and make the switch. As a result, he is dragged off to hell by a statue. (No, really.)

As the other principals all sing at the end, let that be a lesson to you.

The other lesson you need to learn is that if you have a chance to see Erwin Schrott (and, dude, get a hotter name), you should take it. He's got a great voice, sure, but, more importantly, he's also got abs that carry all the way to the second balcony. These pictures don't do him justice (the one up top is from the Kennedy Center production; the one below is from London), but this is a man who was born to play Don Giovanni -- in tight leather pants and naked from the waist up. I mean: damn.

You could tell he was having a great time with the role, too. The other principals came out for their curtain calls as if they were happy but exhausted. Schrott bounded out as if he wanted to do the whole thing over again right then.

Everyone else was also in good voice last night. Placido Domingo was conducting, and he kept the orchestra well controlled so that no one's voice got drowned out. And the music, of course, is fantastic. My only problem with the opera itself is that it's too long. (The curtain last night was at 7pm, and we didn't get home until almost midnight.) There's a great deal of (beautifully sung) superfluity involving Don Ottavio and, to a lesser extent, Donna Anna. You could cut that (stick it in another opera, Wolfgang) and get it down to 2.5 hours, including intermission, and you'd have a better opera. Seriously, during the second act tenor aria last night (Ok, ok, Don Ottavio, you're going to avenge her father: we get it. Now STFU.) I was rolling my eyes and playing "Which Orchestra Members Would I Do?" (Pretty much all the male ones: it's not a very hard game.) If you're going to run an opera for more than three hours, then you need to put Erwin Schrott in a leather harness and jockstrap and swing him from the ceiling while the other principals are singing. Hell, I'd sit through Wagner for that. Maybe.

Last night's performance suffered a bit from staging problems (I mean in addition to the huge problem of not having Erwin Schrott in a jockstrap swinging from the ceiling). There are a lot of scenery changes taking place on the back half of the stage while there's singing on the front half. There's a curtain so you don't see it, but you could hear it. In several places I thought, "What? Are they getting elephants in place for a late night production of Aida?" This seems like the sort of situation that people at the Kennedy Center should know how to avoid.

The other problem was that there wasn't much chemistry between some of the performers (though Masetto and Zerlina were suitably lustful). The clear exception was between Don Giovanni and Leporello (ably sung by a Russian bass who's name is too long to type). It was evident how much affection (if not, perhaps, respect) DG had for Leporello, and Leporello's own love and jealousy for his master were even more apparent. Sure, he wanted the Don to give up women to keep him out of trouble, but he also wanted him for himself. Ultimately, though, the Don chose the big baritone statue, which really only made sense in the (very) short run. He'd have been better off with Leporello as his principal bottom and with Masetto (dumb but cute) and a few peasant boys on the side.

I foresee that my masturbation fantasies for the next couple of weeks are going to involve the two male leads sharing a dressing room. And inviting me backstage. Go for the high notes, boys. I'll help.


J James said...

My boyfriend is doing wigs/makeup at our local opera...and he invited me to come see the show on Wednesday.

I declined...but if these are the sort of hotties I am missing out on...I may have to reconsider!

Will said...

j james, this sort of casting and costuming is very common now--a lot of operas are being produced frankly from a gay perspective because so much of the audience is gay.