Three charismatic singers, Simon Keenlyside, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Mariusz Kwiecien, share the role of the title hero, who goes to hell in a dazzling coup de théâtre. The ensemble of great Mozartean singers includes Angela Meade, Marina Rebeka, Isabel Leonard, Matthew Polenzani, Erwin Schrott, and Paul Appleby. Fabio Luisi and Plácido Domingo conduct.
Sung In Italian Met Titles In English, German, Italian, Spanish
World premiere: National Theater (now Estates Theater), Prague, 1787. Aided by his ingenious librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart approached his operatic retelling of the Don Juan myth from a point of view that is neither tragic nor entirely comic, but rather lighthearted, urbane, and ironic. We follow the title character and his earthy comic sidekick, Leporello, through a series of encounters that begins with a fatal duel, moves back and forth between the humorous and the sentimental, and ends with the protagonist being dragged down to hell.
Production Michael Grandage
Set & Costume Designer Christopher Oram
Lighting Designer Paule Constable
Choreographer Ben Wright
The city of Seville in southern Spain, where Mozart originally set his opera, was already famous in his time as a mythical world of winding streets, hot-blooded young men, and exotically beautiful women sequestered behind latticed windows. The Met’s production places the action in an unnamed Spanish city in the mid-18th century.
GALLERY (Photos from Metopera.org)
Spain, mid-18th century. Leporello, servant to the nobleman Don Giovanni, keeps watch outside the Commendatore’s home at night. Suddenly, the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna, rushes out, struggling with the masked Giovanni and followed by her father. The Commendatore challenges Giovanni to a duel and is killed. Giovanni and Leporello escape. Anna asks her fiancé, Don Ottavio, to avenge her father’s death.
In the morning, Giovanni and Leporello encounter one of Giovanni’s former conquests, Donna Elvira, who is devastated by his betrayal. Leporello tells her she is neither the first nor the last woman to fall victim to Giovanni and shows her his catalogue with the name of every woman Giovanni has seduced.
Peasants celebrate the marriage of Masetto and Zerlina. Giovanni flirts with the bride, telling her she is destined for a better life. But Elvira urges Zerlina to flee her suitor. She also warns Anna, who is still unaware of the identity of her father’s murderer and has asked Giovanni for help in finding the man. Giovanni, for his part, insists that Elvira is mad, and Anna and Ottavio wonder what to believe. As Giovanni leaves, Anna suddenly recognizes his voice as that of the murderer. Devastated but determined, she once more asks Ottavio to avenge her. He wonders how to restore her peace of mind. Giovanni, who has invited the entire wedding party to his home, looks forward to an evening of drinking and dancing.
Outside Giovanni’s home, Zerlina asks Masetto to forgive her. Giovanni enters and leads them both inside. Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio appear masked and are invited in by Leporello. In the ballroom, Giovanni dances with Zerlina, then tries to drag her into the adjoining room. When she cries for help, Giovanni blames Leporello. Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio take off their masks and, along with Zerlina and Masetto, accuse Giovanni, who is momentarily surprised but manages to slip away.
Having exchanged clothes with Giovanni, Leporello takes Elvira on a nighttime walk, leaving his master free to serenade her maid. When Masetto arrives with a band of peasants to hunt down Giovanni, the disguised Don sends them off in various directions, then beats up Masetto. Zerlina finds her bruised fiancé and comforts him.
Later that night, Leporello—still believed by Elvira to be Giovanni—is surprised by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina, and Masetto, who all denounce the supposed Don. Fearing for his life, Leporello reveals his true identity before making his escape. Ottavio proclaims that he will take revenge on Giovanni and asks the others to look after Anna. Elvira thinks about Giovanni, whom she still loves in spite of everything.
In a cemetery, Giovanni and Leporello meet the statue of the Commendatore, who warns Giovanni that by morning he will laugh no longer. Giovanni forces the terrified Leporello to invite the statue to dinner. The statue accepts.
Once again, Ottavio asks Anna to marry him, but she replies that she will not until her father’s death has been avenged.
Elvira arrives at Giovanni’s home. She makes a last desperate attempt to persuade him to change his life, but he only laughs at her. The figure of the Commendatore enters and asks Giovanni to repent. When he boldly refuses he is consumed by flames. Elvira, Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina, Masetto, and Leporello appear, contemplating their futures and the fate of an immoral man.
Tenor Matthew Polenzani is one of the most gifted and distinguished lyric tenors of his generation. His elegant musicianship, innate sense of style and dramatic commitment find him at virtually every leading operatic, concert and recital venue in the world.
Mr. Polenzani’s 2015/2016 season opens with his return to the Opéra National de Paris as Ottavio in Michael Haneke’s acclaimed Don Giovanni. The tenor is Werther at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and again in Vienna, at the Vienna Staatsoper.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York has been, and continues to be his artistic home, and he returns there to star in two new productions. He will sing Nadir, in Le Pêcheurs de Perles, and sings the title role in Roberto Devereux, in a production by Sir David McVicar, with both operas being featured on the Met’s Live in HD series, broadcast to more than 2000 movie theaters worldwide. Mr Polenzani also makes his debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona singing Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème. In concert, Mr Polenzani essays Die Schöne Müllerin at Northwestern University, as part of the opening season in the brand new Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, with Alan Darling at the piano. He will reprise the work with Julius Drake, in a Liederabend in Frankfurt at Oper Frankfurt.
In the 14/15 season, the tenor was Idomeneo in a new production of Mozart’s masterpiece at London’s Royal Opera. He sang Hoffmann in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, under the baton of James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Polenzani reprised his Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, and added Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, to his repertory at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He also made his debut at the Opernhaus Zürich, as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata. Concert appearances included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Muti, and Verdi’s Requiem, at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, with Riccardo Chailly conducting, and a New Year’s Eve Gala Concert in Venezia, with Maria Agresta, and Daniel Harding conducting. Mr. Polenzani also returned to the Festival Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot, in a duo concert with Soprano Marlis Petersen, under Maurizio Benini’s baton. Pianist Julius Drake accompanied the tenor in a widely acclaimed 10 city recital tour, culminating at London’s famed Wigmore Hall.
Among the many highlights from recent Metropolitan Opera seasons are the premieres of Bartlett Sher’s production of L’elisir d’amore, which opened the 2012 season, and Sir David McVicar’s production of Maria Stuarda (issued on DVD by Erato), Willy Decker’s production of La traviata, Julie Taymor’s legendary Die Zauberflöte (DVD available from the Metropolitan Opera), and revivals of Rigoletto, Don Pasquale (issued on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon), Don Giovanni, Roméo et Juliette, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Così fan tutte, Falstaff, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (DVD available from Deutsche Grammophon) and L’Italiana in Algeri. To date, he has sung over 300 performances at the Met, many conducted by his musical mentor, James Levine. Across America, he has sung with Lyric Opera Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera and the Los Angeles Opera, among others, in repertory that includes Clemenza di Tito, Werther, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La traviata, Roméo et Juliette, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia and Die Zauberflöte.
Following Matthew Polenzani’s debut as Gérald in Delibes’s Lakmé with Opéra National de Bordeaux in France in 1998, appearances in other major European theaters include productions of Don Pasquale and La Traviata at the Teatro Comunale in Florence, the Aix-en-Provence Festival (DVD available on Bel Air Classiques) and on a tour of Japan with Torino’s Teatro Regio; I Capuleti e I Montecchi at the Paris Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper; L’elisir d’amore at the Vienna Staatsoper, Bavarian Staatsoper, Teatro San Carlo and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; Così fan tutte at Covent Garden with Sir Colin Davis and in Paris with Philippe Jordan; Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris, Vienna and Frankfurt; La Damnation de Faust at Frankfurt Opera and Berlin at the Deutsche Oper; Manon, in London, and on a tour of Japan with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Idomeneo in Torino with Gianandrea Noseda, Manon with Fabio Luisi and La traviata at La Scala; Rigoletto at the Vienna State Opera conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos, and at the Salzburg Festival in Don Giovanni (DVD available on EuroArts).
Mr. Polenzani is in great demand for symphonic work for the world’s most influential conductors including Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Frizza, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Louis Langrée, James Levine, Jesús López-Cobos, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Sir Antonio Pappano, Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Jeffrey Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst and David Zinman, and with many major orchestras both in the United States and Europe, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Orchestra del Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Giovanile “L. Cherubini” at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and the Ensemble Orchestra de Paris at the Saint Denis Festival.
In recital, Matthew Polenzani has appeared in numerous venues across America with Julius Drake, and at Wigmore Hall (available on CD from the Wigmore Hall label). He has also appeared with noted pianist Richard Goode in a presentation of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Vanished at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, and in recital at the Verbier Festival with pianist Roger Vignoles (commercially available on CD on VAI). Mr. Polenzani was honored to have sung on all three stages of Carnegie Hall in one season: in concert with the MET Chamber Ensemble at Zankel Hall; in solo recital with James Levine at the piano in Weill Hall; and in a Schubert Liederabend on the stage of Isaac Stern Auditorium with colleagues Renée Fleming, Anne Sofie Von Otter, and René Pape, again with James Levine as pianist.
Matthew Polenzani was the recipient of the 2004 Richard Tucker Award and Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award. An avid golfer, he makes his home in suburban New York with his wife, mezzo-soprano Rosa Maria Pascarella and their three sons.
© Matthew Polenzani