Two years ago Juventus Lyrica staged Mozart´s "Così fan tutte" with a historicist orchestra under Hernán Schvartzman. Now it was the turn of the mozartean "Don Giovanni" led by the same artist. In both cases JL had the collaboration of the Dutch foundation OPERA2DAY, created in 2007 with a similar purpose as JL: " to promote the development of young operatic talents". Schvartzman is Argentine and a graduate of The Hague´s Royal Conservatory in orchestral conducting; he had previously studied with Antonio Russo. The ample (for Mozart) orchestra had 41 players, ten from various countries (USA, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Israel, Holland) and 31 from Argentina (including two living in Europe, as the concertino Mónica Waisman, working in Germany).
There was another innovation: what we heard wasn´t the Prague version plus the Elvira monologue from the Vienna revision (too good to be left out in "normal" revivals) but the straight Viennese one, which means that for the first time here we heard the buffo duet between Zerlina and Leporello; unfortunately, however, the marvelous "Il mio tesoro" of Don Ottavio was left out. I sorely missed it and I think that some flexibility was in order, considering that the sole motive of the elimination at the Viennese premiere was that the tenor wasn´t good enough; well, Carlos Ullán can certainly cope with that aria, as he has done in earlier seasons. The added duet is minor Mozart, interesting to hear, for any unknown Mozart is worth at least one acquaintance, but certainly below the level of the other pieces in this wonderful opera.
There was a further rarity: as in the Viennese first production the same singer had done both Masetto and the Commendatore, they did the same here. And again this literalism didn´t work, for in fact Mozart´s singer must have been rather unusual as the vocal requirements are quite different: buffo bass the first, deep dramatic bass the second. Máximo Michailowsky fits the bill as Masetto but not as the Commendatore. And in his case there was no cover for the latter role, as there was for all other parts.
I saw the performance of September 9, which gave me the opportunity of seeing the only European of the double cast, the Dutch baritone Martijn Cornet (debut). A good thing, for he has both the right voice, capable of fortitude but also of being mellifluous in the Serenade, and the "physique du rôle". Sometimes he sang hectoring and shouting, but this was a general fault, nowhere more marked as in Mariana Carnovali´s Elvira. I wonder if this general tendency to exaggeration was imposed by Schvartzman or by producer Ana D´Anna, or by both of them, but it was a bad thing for the musical line: Mozart needs greater cleanness and precision and you can have this without diminishing the dramatic aspect. Carnovali has a splendid voice; however, she was far from the exactness of florid singing she exhibited in her "Cenerentola" of 2010. Macarena Valenzuela did well as Donna Anna; she needs to polish her style but she has the means and the beauty. Laura Penchi, as usual with her, was charming and professional in her Zerlina, but a bit more containment wouldn´t have come amiss. I do think that the currently snow-thatched Ullán should accept some appropriate wig and look younger, especially in an institution called Juventus (conversely, Michailovsky didn´t look old enough as the Commendatore). But he sang with refinement his "Dalla sua pace", although he too overdid the accents in the recitatives.
To my mind Juan Salvador Trupia y Rodríguez (long name indeed) has done as Leporello the best job of his career; he is versatile (I recently praised his Attila), has real comic wit, agility, a fine voice and great professionalism. The frequent dialogues of master and servant were the best thing in this revival.
A colleague blasted unmercifully the orchestra and its conductor; I can´t accept it. Doubtless there were rough spots, though they were generally were in tune (a tricky matter with gut strings), but as the music progressed the coordination between pit and stage ameliorated considerably, and the actual playing was generally decent. I don´t agree with all of Schvartzman´s tempi or editorial decisions, but it was an honest attempt at historicism, and we need them. A good remark: in the supertitles appeared the statement that the players would take five minutes to tune, as it is a historicist orchestra (they used a fortepiano played by Manuel de Olaso, to my mind too free in his ornaments and extrapolations: even the destiny motif of the later Beethoven Fifth!). The resolution of the added stage bands was very poor in the First Act and null in the banquet scene of the Second: as I saw "Don Giovanni" in the small Prague Tyl Theatre (where it was premiered), I know it can be done in rather restricted stages, such as the Avenida´s. The Chorus under Schvartzman was alright.