I was at Monday's return of Don Giovanni, with much the same cast except for two new women (Tamar Iveri as Donna Anna and Dorothea Röschmann as Donna Elvira) and a conductor -- Lothar Koenigs -- making his Met debut. Tenor Mark Thomsen also debuted in place of an indisposed Matthew Polenzani. The evening was, unfortunately, a bust.
The new women did their part. Iveri is a sound and admirable singer, and the higher-lying Donna Anna fits her voice better than Vitellia did in the spring. I praised Susan Graham much as Elvira two months ago, and it's true that the mezzo fullness of her low notes is now missed, but Röschmann has her own success. (I'd never before quite realized how affecting Elvira's recits could be.) Vocally she took a bit of her first aria to warm up, but was in secure voice all night and showed a spaciousness of sound that bodes well for bringing her light-Wagner successes to the Met. In chararacter she showed the same transparent-seeming abandon as always, and in a better overall production I'd be eager to see it again.
Thomsen's debut was less auspicious. He showed a recessed sound and struggled to get through Ottavio's two difficult arias. And perhaps Koenigs had the same first-performance-of-a-run problem that other visiting conductors have, but he didn't show much either. It's true that he didn't try to civilize the score to death as Langree did, but until nicely shaping the final scene he showed little fire or particular insight.
All of the returnees did well... Except, unfortunately, the title character. Erwin Schrott is still swaggering vocally and physically for the called-for moments, but seems now to be phoning it in, disconnected not only from the action but from himself. Even the one real display of character -- Don Giovanni's hyper, physically-manifested nervousness before the Commendatore's arrival -- is now gone, and everything seems like a stock gesture. Yes, his voice and pecs are impressive, but... If you ever wondered what would happen if Derek Zoolander played Don Giovanni, this is your chance to find out.