Mozart, Don Giovanni
For my final production at the Pokrovsky Chamber Opera (there’s nothing in the schedule when I am here in November), Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The late Boris Pokrovsky can always be counted on for intelligent stagings, this one dating from 1987.
In the program notes, Pokrovsky explained that he decided to focus on Mozart’s own description of this opera as a “drama giocosa” (amusing drama). This resulted in a production which would maximize the need for the characters to act, on one hand, and would emphasize the comic elements. The small theater was rearranged from its usual set-up (nothing is bolted down), with the seats parked on a diagonal. Where the orchestra pit usually is was covered over, thus allowing the action to spill off the stage, both within the triangle-shaped area where there were no seats and alongside the audience. The orchestra sat behind a scrim in the back of the stage. The scenery was traditional – furniture, gates, a pillar shrine to the virgin Mary – but since there is no curtain in this theater and therefore no scene changes, it all had to serve multiple purposes.
For this it worked. With singers who can not only sing but can also act, this indeed provided them the intimate setting in which to do both. They enjoyed themselves, and so did the audience. Leporello provides the most comic relief, and German Yukavsky played his role to the fullest, often stealing the entire show. Aleksey Mochalov sang an energetic Don Giovanni – in this portrayal, Pokrovsky explained in the notes, it was important that we remember that for Don Giovanni to succeed in his rather bad exploits, he actually has to be a charming and likable character. Mocharov managed to pull off being both the bad guy and the charmer. In the end, as Pokrovsky further explained in the notes, although he received his punishment in hell, and the other characters gloat about it in the final ensemble, the violins are mocking everything with their laughter, so the irrepressible Don Giovanni maybe is not defeated after all.
Conductor Vladimir Agronsky once again provided a good musical foundation to allow the cast to shine.
I am going to miss this little theater.