Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Don Giovanni offers an ‘opera film’ experience

From right: Kenneth Kellogg (Commendatore); Maestro Lidiya Yankovskaya; scenes of filming Don Giovanni by Paula Podemski and Doug Provost.  

Seattle Opera presents Don Giovanni, streaming March 19–21, 2021 for $35. Learn more at seattleopera.org/giovanni.

For many years, the character of Don Giovanni was celebrated as “Mozart’s bad boy”—an evil but charming anti-hero of opera. But for Stage Director Brenna Corner and Maestro Lidiya Yankovskaya—the duo behind Seattle Opera’s streaming Don Giovanni—there’s so much more to this masterpiece than toxic masculinity.

“The title character is a tool through which librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte speaks to the challenges and experiences of women from different social classes,” Yankovskaya said. “While Don Giovanni himself is a trope, the women in this story continually defy our expectations and assumptions.”

With a mix of tragedy and comedy, the story depicts an unrepentant sexual predator convinced of his irresistible charm who must who must pay for his misdeeds. Through the lens of female characters such as Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Zerlina, the audience sees the human impact of Don Giovanni’s abuse, violence, and narcissism. Mozart’s immortal music for Don Giovanni has been enchanting audiences since its 1787 premiere. But at Seattle Opera in 2021, Don Giovanni will bring something new to the table—a fusion of opera and film artistry. Inspired by a 1960s film of Hamlet on Broadway, stage director Brenna Corner has chosen to capture this streaming opera in black-and-white film. Because of the pandemic, it’s not possible to perform in McCaw Hall. So, Corner thought, why not lean into new artistic possibilities?

“Cinematic photography has a unique theatricality of its own,” Corner said. “With film, the viewer can see through the eyes of any character. You’re not confined by the fourth wall. It’s exciting.”

From top, left: Jared Bybee (Don Giovanni), Vanessa Goikoetxea (Donna Anna),Michael Sumuel (Leporello), Andrew Stenson (Don Ottavio). From bottom, left: Laura Wilde (Donna Elvira), Jasmine Habersham (Zerlina), Kenneth Kellogg (Commendatore) and Adam Lau (Masetto). 

Don Giovanni presents audiences with a cast of acclaimed and internationally-renowned singers including baritone Jared Bybee (Don Giovanni), as well as soprano Vanessa Goikoetxea (Donna Anna), who first earned fans for her Seattle Opera performance as Micaëla in Carmen (’19). Popular returning singers include Andrew Stenson (Don Ottavio) and Adam Lau (Masetto). In addition to Bybee, those making company debuts include Laura Wilde (Donna Elvira), Michael Sumuel (Leporello), Kenneth Kellogg (Commendatore), and Jasmine Habersham (Zerlina). In advance of Don Giovanni, Habersham and pianist David McDade will give a free recital for the public on Seattle Opera’s website, YouTube and Facebook at 7 p.m. on February 19 (viewable until March 12).

Don Giovanni premieres on Seattle Opera’s website at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 19 and can be viewed until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 21. Tickets are available online at seattleopera.org or by calling 206.389.7676 or 800.426.1619. For questions about streaming, view our Streaming FAQs. This opera is rated PG-13 for sexual violence. Read content advisories.

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