STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION
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LEPORELLO, DON GIOVANNI'S SERVANT
11 December 2013
MUNICIPAL THEATRE, HAIDARI
Starts at 20.00 |
Municipal Theatre, Haidari (138 Stratarchou Karaiskaki, across from the Municipal Library, tel.: 210 5821574)
The Greek National Opera presents Mozart’s legendary Don Giovanni in the form of a Suitcase Opera, an initiative that has been embraced by audiences all over Greece for the past two years. Suitcase Opera is a flexible and mobile production form, which allows operas to be presented at unusual venues and beyond traditional theatres, where the GNO’s star performers sing to a piano accompaniment. The performances are possible thanks to a donation from the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation within the context of the “Journey to the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre” initiative.
The GNO’s new Suitcase Opera production tells the tale of the Spanish nobleman Don Giovanni, a blasphemous libertine admired by men for his courage and by women for his scandalous reputation. Don Giovanni appears as a man without feelings, without compassion and without a sense of what is just and what is not. At the same time, however, he embodies the principles of the Enlightenment and rationalism; he has control over his destiny and desires, and defines his own fate without fear of God.
The director of the production, Alexandros Efklidis, notes:
“Don Giovanni belongs to that small core of masterpieces in the fantastic museum of contemporary Western culture, somewhere between the Sistine Chapel, the Divine Comedy, Crime and Punishment, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. However, despite the grandeur that has been assigned to it, Don Giovanni was written as a comedy for a very small stage. Scaling the opera down and reviving its comic elements were, for the Pocket Opera production, the two main goals through which to emphasise those aspects of the opera that are usually overlooked by its presentation on a grand scale. Even though achieving a reasonable duration for the circumstances meant scrapping a large part of the musical material, Mozart’s musical message comes across in pristine form. Our performance is not an interpretation of the piece. Instead, it aims to highlight the motives of the characters that flank the undisputed protagonist, Don Giovanni. Mozart, with his monumental sense of theatre and humour, endowed his characters with an incredible amount of psychological detail, which we have attempted to convey in a playful manner, adding our own brushstrokes to 18th century sensibilities and making the characters more affable to a modern-day audience. Our production, moreover, has done away the metaphysical features that are so often prevalent in the opera. It presents the characters in the context of the here and now, which is why we decided to strip them of their rococo frills and, instead, show them as they would be today. The aim was not just to make them more familiar, but, rather to make them easier to understand.”
Don Giovanni at a glance
The composer / Most people have a great sense of familiarity for Mozart, probably because his music is so pleasant at a first hearing. However, prevalent misconceptions about his life and work have formed an image that is much different to reality. These misconceptions, that have even altered his name, date as far back as the 19th century, when Mozart was first cast as a figure that inspired awe. That was when the rather bombastic Amadeus was introduced, a name that he used rarely and then only in jest, instead of the more prosaic Αmadé or Amadeo, which was how he usually signed his name. To this day, the misconceptions regarding Mozart continue to be propagated through popular presentations of his life and work, for example in film. There is certainly no doubt that Mozart was an intellectual and one of the most significant and introspective figures of his time. He was charismatic and sensitive, and embraced lofty ideals. However, recent research into his life and work continues to endow him with additional attributes, completing the portrait of a man who is constantly revealing new and exciting aspects of himself.
The opera / Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts. The libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte was based on an earlier piece by Giovanni Bertati for Giuseppe Gazzaniga’s opera Don Giovanni Tenorio, or The Stone Guest, which premiered in Venice in 1787. The story revolves around the salacious adventures of the Spanish nobleman and libertine Don Giovanni. In one of these incidents, Don Giovanni tries to rape Donna Anna and kills her father in his effort to escape justice. But the elderly man returns from the dead to exact his revenge and Don Giovanni, unrepentant for his sins, is sent straight to hell. The opera ends with a moral, as was the usual practice at the time.
Premieres / Don Giovanni was first performed in Prague on 29 October 1787. For its premiere in Vienna on 7 May 1788, Mozart adapted the score to accommodate the new singers, while also adding a editing a number of the musical parts. The opera that is most often presented today is a combination of the original and adapted versions. The Greek National Opera first introduced Don Giovanni to its repertory on 20 March 1962 in a production directed by Antiochos Evangelatos. The Pocket Opera presents an abridged version of the original.