In Italy six hundred and forty, in Germany two hundred and thirty-one, a hundred in France and ninety-one in Turkey, but in Spain – a thousand and three! This is the disturbingly impressive little black book of the infamous Don Giovanni (or Don Juan) in Mozart’s opera of the same name, to be performed Thursday October 10. This will be the inaugural opera production of the newborn JERUSALEM OPERA, who burst onto the Israeli musical scene in February of this year. Best of all, it will be performed at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, in an open-air performance AND broadcast online via U-Sophia.com.
It’s one of Mozart’s Italian operas written in collaboration with the great Jewish-born Venetian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte (himself a Don Juan of sorts, though perhaps not as prolific). Giacomo Casanova himself may have been in the audience. The universal topic of the wealthy immoral womanizer has fascinated us for centuries, and his exploits in this opera are nothing less than evil: lies, murder, and attempted rape. In this work, Mozart and Da Ponte bring justice to their anti-hero, naming the opera “The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni”. Mozart classified it as an “opera buffa”, or comic opera, but it’s more of a tragicomedy of sorts, and eve mixes in a rare supernatural element.
Hell hath no fury like woman scorned – and here the Don is faced with three angry women, and two of their angry fiancés. Donna Elvira is one of Giovanni’s abandoned former lovers; Donna Anna is his latest conquest and the daughter of the Commendatore, who he murders at the start of the opera. Both noblewomen, joined by Anna’s fiancé Don Ottavio, swear vengeance against the Don. They are joined by Zerlina, a peasant girl who is also a victim of the Don’s lust, and her fiancé Masetto. This colorful cast of characters team up against Giovanni.
Don Giovanni holds all the well-known Mozartean elements: the action-packed concertato with all the principals onstage, each telling us what’s on their mind, the constant dance across the great class divide, masked schemers and identity swaps. Mozart also quotes several other composers of the period, not least himself – you may recognize the tune of “Non più andrai” from The Marriage of Figaro.
One of the most memorable scenes in the opera is the visit of the statue of the Commendatore, raised from the dead and come for revenge. In the Commendatore Giovanni finds a rival he can’t conquer: when he refuses to repent his sins, the statue descends into hell and takes the Don with him.
The Jerusalem Opera’s production of Don Giovanni will use the setting of the Tower of David as a canvas for creating operatic performance. With video art, a light show and special effects, you can expect a full theatrical experience.
Two Italian singers will perform in the production. The role of Don Giovanni will be sung by baritone Gabriele Ribis (who can be heard in the role here). Dario Giorgelè will sing the magnificent role of Leporello, Don Giovanni’s long-suffering manservant. Olga Senderskaya, who will be performing in Die Fledermaus with the Israel Philharmonic later this year, will sing Donna Anna. The rest of the cast includes Efrat Raz as Donna Elvira, Shaked Bar as Zerlina, tenor Oshri Segev as Don Ottavio and Netanel Zalevsky as Masetto. Yakov Strizhak will sing the role of the Commendatore. Music director Omer Shomroni will conduct the Jerusalem Opera Orchestra.
In a time when the curtain is falling even on veteran opera houses such as New York City Opera, let’s wish the Jerusalem Opera luck and many more performances. For an added awesomeness factor, watch the ladies and gentlemen of the Jerusalem Opera performing a flash mob Don Giovanni to the awe of the unsuspecting passersby:
Don Giovanni premiered on October 6 and will be performed again on Thursday October 10, 20:00, at the Tower of David. The program advises that you dress warmly. Get your tickets by phone at *6226 or online via Bimot. Tickets cost 249 NIS full price, with several discounts available.
The online broadcast will begin October 10 at 20:00. Access it here (you may be required to download a free app in order to view the broadcast).