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Greek National Opera’s new international co-production
starts its journey from Athens and GNO TV
A while before being presented by the Göteborg Opera and the Royal Danish Opera, Don Giovanni comes to nationalopera.gr/GNOTV/en from 14 February.
Mozart’s Don Giovanni is the first of Greek National Opera’s international co-productions scheduled to be created and premiere in Athens, and then travel to the other two opera houses participating in the co-production. Due to the pandemic the production was not presented to a live audience, but it was video recorded in the Stavros Niarchos Hall and its world premiere will be presented on GNO TV. The performance will be available on nationalopera.gr/GNOTV/en from 14 February 2021. Then, as scheduled, it will be presented in Göteborg within 2021 and in Copenhagen in 2022. Don Giovanni’s production and GNO TV were made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.
One of the greatest milestones of the operatic repertoire, Don Giovanni is a challenge not only for opera singers but also for the creative team called upon to stage it. Mozart’s exceptionally imaginative music conveys all the aspects of the course of a man who fights with God and takes his fate in his own hands, while managing to connect the world of the nobles with the comic characters, in an unprecedented way. In this emblematic work nothing is as it seems, since ambiguity runs through both the libretto and the music. The story is about the amorous adventures of the philanderer Spanish nobleman, Don Giovanni. In one of them, he attempts to rape Donna Anna. In his effort to escape, he kills her father, who then returns from the world of the dead to take revenge. As Don Giovanni does not repent for his actions, he is led to Hell.
The sets and costumes of the new production of Don Giovanni were created entirely in GNO’s construction workshops, rehearsals took place in October and November 2020 in GNO’s rehearsal halls, and the performance was video recorded in mid-December in the Stavros Niarchos Hall. The production was video recorded by a state-of-the-art eight-camera system and directed using special filmmaking techniques, in order to offer a high-quality viewing and listening experience to the audience. The performance will be presented on GNO TV and subtitles will be available in Greek, English and French.
The production is conducted by Australian conductor Daniel Smith and directed by John Fulljames, with the participation of the Orchestra and Chorus of the Greek National Opera and starring distinguished Greek soloists Tassis Christoyannis, Vassiliki Karayanni, Yannis Christopoulos, Petros Magoulas, Anna Stylianaki, Tassos Apostolou, Nikos Kotenidis and Chrissa Maliamani.
John Fulljames is the artistic director of the Royal Danish Opera, former deputy artistic director of the Royal Opera House, London, and founder and artistic director of the avant-garde British artistic company The Opera Group. He has directed performances at the world’s greatest opera houses, such as La Scala, Milan, Covent Garden, Teatro Real in Madrid, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, etc. The director, who sets the opera’s action in a modern-day hotel, in the microcosm of a city where the private becomes public and the stay lasts only a limited time, notes: “Don Giovanni is an enduring opera because it has so many aspects; there is broad humour and great theatrical set pieces, all in a dark thriller about a seducer who must be stopped. It is about how we live together in society and, as ever with opera, about how we face death. The climax is the long-awaited death of Don Giovanni himself as he chooses death, hell even, over denying who he is. His death is an expression of order reasserting itself over the unrestrained liberty he represents”.
The people who worked alongside Fulljames for Don Giovanni’s spectacular staging are associate director Aylin Bozok, set designer Dick Bird who designed the impressive sets representing all the aspects of a city hotel, costume designer Annemarie Woods, choreographer Maxine Braham, lighting designer Fabiana Piccioli, video designer Will Duke and video programmer Dan Trenchard.
John Fulljames’ note
Death runs like an atmosphere through Don Giovanni – most obviously the Commendatore dies, but Donna Anna contemplates taking her own life, Ottavio says he is willing to sacrifice his life to revenge her, Leporello is almost killed, Masetto is almost killed, we are fearful for Zerlina… But of course the death which is the long-awaited and trailed climax of the opera is that of Don Giovanni himself –it becomes inevitable and even wished for by him as he chooses death, hell even, over denying who he is– as the individualistic threat of total, unrestrained, liberty which he represents can only be vanquished by his death. His death is an expression of order reasserting itself. All trace of him is wiped away and society continues. A miniature version of this re-statement of order occurs every time that we leave a hotel; as our rooms are fumigated and made new again to create once again the illusion that a new occupant will, tonight, be the first occupant. Hotels are stages on which we enact lives in defiance of mortality. Our mess is cleared away, no actions have consequences and there are clean sheets every day. Hotels are resonant in other ways; they are places where different people and classes encounter each other – whether for a civic event, a wedding where the family are spending their life savings, a long-term wealthy resident, a traveler visiting a city. Places where there is both intimacy and anonymity, both private and public spaces. Places where much of the function is oriented around what happens after dark. But above all they are places which one day we must check-out of. So please make yourself at home, check in, collect your room key, lock up your valuables and leave behind the world outside.
Don Giovanni at a glance
The composer / There is little doubt anymore that Mozart was an intellectual, one of the most significant, restless and interesting personalities of his time, a charismatic, sensitive man with high ideals. Contemporary musicological research is constantly adding small pieces to the puzzle that forms the portrait of the composer, discovering new and exciting facets of his life.
The opera / Don Giovanni is written in two acts. The libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte was based on an earlier version by Giovanni Bertati for Giuseppe Gazzaniga’s opera Don Giovanni o sia Il convitato di pietra, which was first performed in Venice in 1787.
Comedy or drama? / Da Ponte labeled his libretto a dramma giocoso, a term which was interpreted as referring to a dramatic piece with comical elements. Mozart himself entered the work in his thematic catalogue as an opera buffa, a comical work. Apart from substantial elements of structure and musical characterization which clearly classify the piece as a comic opera, nowadays musicologists agree that in its time the term dramma giocoso meant nothing more than musical comedy, nothing different than opera buffa. In Mozart’s times terms were not used with the fastidiousness we usually insist upon nowadays.
Premieres / Don Giovanni was first performed on 29 October 1787 at the Estates Theatre in Prague –today renamed as Tyl Theatre–, which was annexed by the National Theatre in 1948. For the Viennese premiere (7 May 1788), Mozart adapted the score for the new singers, composed new pieces for certain roles and removed others. Don Giovanni was introduced to the repertoire of the Greek National Opera (est. 1939/40) on 30 March 1962. The work was conducted by Antiochos Evangelatos and with Kostas Paskalis in the title role. The new co-production of the GNO is presented in Prague version.
Synopsis of the original
Act I / Night. Outside the Commendatore’s home Leporello is waiting as Don Giovanni, his master, is inside attempting to ravish the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna. A masked Don Giovanni runs from the house with Donna Anna in hot pursuit, shouting to her father for help. Awakened by her pleas, the Commendatore challenges Don Giovanni to a duel, in which the elder man is killed. After Don Giovanni and Leporello flee, Donna Anna and her fiancé, Don Ottavio, swear to avenge the death of the Commendatore. Don Giovanni and Leporello hear the cries of a woman. Don Giovanni, never one to pass up an opportunity, approaches, but recognizes her as Donna Elvira, whom he had recently seduced and abandoned. Leporello, who was assigned by Don Giovanni to distract her while he beats a hasty retreat, tells Elvira that she means nothing to his amorous master. The village is celebrating the impending wedding of Zerlina and Masetto. Lusting after Zerlina, Giovanni orders Leporello to amuse Masetto and the revellers so that he may be alone with Zerlina. Donna Elvira interrupts him just as he is about to woo Zerlina. Donna Anna and Don Ottavio arrive and ask Don Giovanni to help them find the Commendatore’s masked murderer. Their suspicion is aroused when they hear Donna Elvira’s denunciations of Don Giovanni, but he assures them that the scorned woman is mad. Don Giovanni leaves, but Donna Anna tells Don Ottavio she recognized his voice as that of her father’s murderer. Donna Anna, Don Ottavio and Donna Elvira wear masks and secretly join a party organized by Don Giovanni in celebration of Zerlina and Masetto. At the feast, Zerlina’s screams interrupt the dancing revellers, and Don Giovanni falsely accuses Masetto of attacking her. Donna Anna, Don Ottavio and Donna Elvira remove their masks and confront Don Giovanni, who manages to escape.
Act II / Leporello threatens to leave his master’s service, but Don Giovanni convinces him to stay and help him seduce Donna Elvira’s maid. They exchange clothes and Don Giovanni serenades the maid while Leporello diverts Donna Elvira. Still disguised as Don Giovanni, Leporello is trying to escape from Donna Elvira when he is trapped by Don Ottavio, Donna Anna, Zerlina, and Masetto, who believe they have finally caught Don Giovanni. The servant pleads for mercy and escapes, and Don Ottavio reaffirms his oath for revenge to Donna Anna. Donna Elvira laments her betrayal of Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni and Leporello meet up in a cemetery, where they suddenly see the statue of the slain Commendatore. To Leporello’s horror, the statue accepts an invitation to dinner at Don Giovanni’s house. Despite Ottavio’s promises, Donna Anna is reluctant to marry while she is still in mourning. Donna Elvira bursts in on Don Giovanni’s feast, urging him to mend his ways, but to no avail. The statue of the Commendatore arrives for dinner and demands that Don Giovanni atone for his sins. He refuses and meets his doom. Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, Donna Elvira, Masetto and Zerlina arrive in search of Giovanni, but find only Leporello. The stunned servant tells them of the evening’s occurrences, and they agree that evildoers such as Don Giovanni always meet a bitter end. All think about how they will continue their lives: Zerlina and Masetto will enjoy a quiet married life, Donna Anna will postpone her marriage to Don Ottavio due to mourning, Donna Elvira will retire to a convent and Leporello will look for a better boss.
Daniel Smith Conductor
Australian conductor who has rapidly gained international acclaim after winning numerous prizes at prestigious international competitions. He served as Direttore Principale Ospite of Teatro Carlo Felice in Italy, he was the first Australian to conduct the Czech Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic, as well as at the Mariinsky Theatre, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the Teatro San Carlo in Napoli, etc. He has launched the charity foundation “The Daniel Smith ‘Gift of Music’ Foundation”, which gives the opportunity to socially vulnerable groups to attend performances for free. This is the second time he collaborates with the Greek National Opera.
John Fulljames Director
Artistic director of the Royal Danish Opera, former associate director of the Royal Opera House, London, and co-founder and artistic director of the artistic company The Opera Group. His credits include Nixon in China (Copenhagen, Scottish Opera), Orphée et Euridice (La Scala, Milan, ROH), Street Scene (2008 Best Musical Evening Standard Awards, Monte-Carlo, Teatro Real, Oper Köln, Théâtre du Châtelet, Liceu), Faust (Dortmund), Così fan tutte (Garsington, Bucharest), etc. In 2007 and 2008 he directed to great acclaim the works A Florentine Tragedy, Gianni Schicchi and Mavra at the Greek National Opera.
Tassis Christoyannis Don Giovanni
Greek baritone, since 1989 he has been singing with the Greek National Opera, at the Athens Concert Hall and at the most prestigious theatres worldwide. His repertoire includes leading roles in such operas as Il barbiere di Siviglia, Macbeth, Don Giovanni, Don Carlos, La traviata, Die Zauberflӧte, Eugene Onegin, Faust, Hamlet, Un ballo in maschera, Falstaff, Il trovatore. Apart from recordings of opera works he has also recorded songs by French and Greek composers. He also composes music. He received the Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros (“Best French songs interpreter”, category: opera).
Vassiliki Karayanni Donna Anna
Greek soprano, she has repeatedly sung leading roles in productions of the GNO, as well as at the Athens and Thessaloniki Concert Halls. She has also appeared at prestigious opera houses across the world, festivals and concert halls such as the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, London), La Scala (Milan), Komische Oper Berlin, Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Düsseldorf), Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Cadogan Hall, Carnegie Hall, Teatro Carlo Felice (Genoa, Italy), and the Royal Danish Opera. She has performed numerous leading roles such as Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Violetta (La traviata), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Norina (Don Pasquale), Gilda (Rigoletto), Zerlina (Don Giovanni).
Yannis Christopoulos Don Ottavio
Greek tenor, as a soloist he has performed roles of classical and contemporary repertoire at the Greek National Opera, as well as at the Athens and Thessaloniki Concert Halls. He has collaborated with all major Greek orchestras and has appeared in many performances and concerts, in international and Greek festivals and theatres such as the Greek Festival, Demetria, Santorini and Nicosia Festivals, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Carnegie Hall, National Auditorium of Music (Madrid), Cairo Opera, etc. He has recorded numerous works (by Thanos Mikroutsikos, Giorgios Hatzinasios, Bizet, etc.) and since 2011 he has been a permanent member of the Greek National Opera Soloists.
Petros Magoulas Il Commendatore
Greek bass, he has sung at the GNO, Kiel Opera House, ROH, Welsh National Opera, Bilbao Opera, Athens and Thessaloniki Concert Halls, Athens Festival, etc such roles as Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Osmin (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Don Giovanni, Heinrich der Vogler (Lohengrin), Daland (Der fliegende Holländer), Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra). He has also performed Verdi’s and Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14, etc. He has taken part in internationally awarded recordings such as the one of Handel’s works (Decca Classics) under George Petrou. In 2019 he sang the role of the Commendatore (Don Giovanni) at the RΟΗ (Covent Garden, London), in a production that was filmed and presented to hundreds of halls across the world.
Anna Stylianaki Donna Elvira
Greek soprano, she studied voice and opera at the Thessaloniki State Conservatory. She continued postgraduate studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Munich, and specialized in Lied. She received scholarships from the Maria Callas Association and Richard Wagner Verband International (Munich). She has performed, among others, Veronica (Le docteur Miracle), Mimì (La bohème), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Vivika (The Godson), Anthoula (Perouze), Maria Boccanegra (Simon Boccanegra), and Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus). She received honorary mention at the Grand Prix Maria Callas (2014) and the 3rd Award at the Marie Kraya International Singing Competition (2015).
Tassos Apostolou Leporello
Greek bass, he studied voice in Athens under Frangiskos Voutsinos and in Milan under Maria-Luisa Cioni and Roberto Negri. He graduated from the Department of Political Sciences of the Athens Law School (University of Athens) and from the Veaki Drama School. Among others, he has sung at the Greek National Opera, Opera of Thessaloniki, Athens Concert Hall, Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Οdeon of Herodes Atticus, the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, at the United Nations and Lincoln Center of New York, and many more halls with very important orchestras. He has performed in concerts, as well as in world premieres and recordings of Greek composers’ works. His theatre credits include leading roles in ancient Greek and contemporary plays (National Theatre, Art Theatre, etc), while his cinema credits include films by Theo Angelopoulos, Lefteris Xanthopoulos, etc.
Nikos Kotenidis Masetto
Greek baritone, he studied classical guitar and voice at the National Conservatory of Kozani. He continued his studies at the Athenaeum Conservatory and at the GNO Opera. He continued postgraduate studies at the University of Music and Theatre in Munich, and he was a member of the ensemble of the Klagenfurt State Theatre. He has sung such roles as Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Don Giovanni, Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Morales and Le Dancaire (Carmen), and Lorenzo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi). He performed at the Hungarian State Opera gala with Piotr Beczała and Ferruccio Furlanetto (2014). He has performed with the Symphony Orchestra of the Athens Municipality, the Athens State Orchestra and the Munich Radio Orchestra.
Chrissa Maliamani Zerlina
Greek soprano, she studied voice at the New Conservatory of Thessaloniki under Varvara Tsambali and completed her postgraduate studies at the Würzburg University of Music. Between September 2012 and July 2014 she was a member of the Ensemble of the Plauen-Zwickau Theatre in Germany. Recently she performed the title roles in Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Carlo Coccia’s Caterina di Guisa, as well as the roles of Leila (Les Pêcheurs de perles) and Eurydice (Orphée aux enfers, Olympia Theatre). At the Greek National Opera (Stavros Niarchos Hall and Alternative Stage) she has sung such roles as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Frasquita (Carmen) and Maid (Powder Her Face).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
A co-production of the Greek National Opera with the Göteborg Opera (Sweden) and the Royal Danish Opera
Filmed at the Stavros Niarchos Hall, on December 10th, 12th & 15th, 2020
Conductor Daniel Smith
Director John Fulljames
Associate director Aylin Bozok
Sets Dick Bird
Costumes Annemarie Woods
Choreographer Maxine Braham
Lighting designer Fabiana Piccioli
Video design Will Duke
Video programming Dan Trenchard
Chorus master Agathangelos Georgakatos
Don Giovanni Tassis Christoyannis
Donna Anna Vassiliki Karayanni
Don Ottavio Yannis Christopoulos
Il Commendatore Petros Magoulas
Donna Elvira Anna Stylianaki
Leporello Tassos Apostolou
Masetto Nikos Kotenidis
Zerlina Chrissa Maliamani
With the Orchestra and Chorus of the GNO
* The performance contains nudity.
With a 10-euro ticket viewers:
Presale starts on February 2nd, 2021.
GNO TV is a new strand of programming of the Greek National Opera, aiming at spreading the artistic work of the only Greek opera house across the world, while expanding the meaning of artistic outreach. GNO TV is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.
Although GNO TV was launched in the midst of the pandemic, this new service is not just a response to the coronavirus; it signals the digital transition of the Greek National Opera to an era of different needs and new standards. GNO TV aims at attracting audiences from across the world, since thanks to GNO’s artistic identity and the quality of its productions it can participate on an equal footing in opera’s global online market.
GNO TV performances will be streamed through Akamai player, a top cloud security, web performance and media delivery service, that ensures safe, fast and reliable broadcasts via any device and at any location. With more than 270,000 servers in more than 120 countries, Akamai distributes more than 40% of the worldwide internet traffic, as it supports over 3 trillion digital interactions on a daily basis, from 6,000 leading companies and organizations in their fields on a global level.
Lead Donor of the GNO / Don Giovanni donor
Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org]
Don Giovanni sponsor