Kentucky Opera, Don Giovanni, Brown Theatre
Like all masterpieces Don Giovanni can be enjoyed on several levels. The story is exciting and titillating, it is action-packed and often very funny. Yet the undercurrents are invariably dark and the single most important fact to keep always in mind is that this is the last day in the life of Don Giovanni. Baritones may strut, woo Zerlina in sugared tones and toss off the Champagne aria, but nemesis approaches.
Take this idea of many levels of meaning. Then take just one aria, the so-called Catalogue aria in which the servant Leporello disabuses Donna Elvira of the notion that she is Don Giovanni's only love. On the surface it is funny to hear the servant list all those hundreds of conquests with the simply killing punch line: 'but in Spain already, 1,003', and he repeats: '1,003. 1,003'. Then try thinking yourself into the mind of the noble, very Catholic, immediate ex-virgin and Spanish provincial lady who believes he loved her alone. Then the aria takes on tones of deepest cruelty.
But it is - as ultimately it has to be - the music which defines the experience. Mozart was in the last decade of his short life and at the peak of his immense powers. From the first terrifying bars of the overture with their deeply menacing chords of D minor through numerous solos, duets and, especially those quintets and sextets of which Mozart was both creator and never-surpassed master, he builds an architectonic structure as impressive in scale and sheer 'rightness' as a mediaeval cathedral. The climactic scene when the Don is dragged down to hell is among the most famous in opera - those D minor chords again -- and proves that though opera would develop after Mozart it never got more sophisticated or more profoundly moving.
SOURCE: Louisville Culture Vulture