The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” directed by popular English director Michael Grandage, suffered two major setbacks prior to opening night.
James Levine, the Met’s longtime, extremely revered music director, backed out due to ongoing medical issues. And Fabio Luisi, who was just named the Met’s new principal conductor, has stepped in for Levine.
As if that weren’t enough, Mariusz Kwiecien, who was set to play the demanding title role, injured his back during rehearsal, leaving the job to Peter Mattei.
Grandage’s fairly traditional production of “Don Giovanni,” set in 18th century Spain, is unexciting, dull and devoid of any freethinking or creativity. Nearly all of it happens on the edge of the stage in front of a three-story wall of balconies, leaving little space for the performers to move.
If not much else, there are a few neat tricks.
During the “Catalog Aria,” Leporello’s first-act solo describing Giovanni’s countless female conquests, beautiful women fanning themselves fill the balconies.
And when the ghostly Commendatore seizes Giovanni and drags him to hell, open flames consume the stage.
Mattei deserves much credit for taking on such a demanding role in little notice. The rest of the cast is quite strong vocally, and the relationship between Donna Anna and her suitor Ottavio is especially heartfelt.
If you go: “Don Giovanni” plays at the Metropolitan Opera through March 17. 212-362-6000, metoperafamily.org.