Don Giovanni -- Metropolitan Opera, 4/13/09
Mattei, Ramey, Wall, Frittoli, Breslik, Bayrakdarian, Shenyang, Aceto / Langree
[posts on previous casts this season: here and here]
Short post this time. Peter Mattei fantastic as ever in his signature role: virile and suave, a treat for the ear as the classic seductive Don. He actually makes the finale count, but I long to see him again in a production that gives coherent context. Samuel Ramey still has something left, particularly in this part that doesn't have long exposed legato bits. Quite a good Leporello, as most of late here have been. Raymond Aceto also good as the Commendatore, though he doesn't actually get to appear on stage for the second act (he sings from the pit while an actor stands behind the big mirror). Barbara Frittoli not bad as Donna Elvira; as in her Fiordiligi some years back she acts the part while approximating the tough vocals in a reasonably commendable way. If I hadn't heard Susan Graham actually nail the part last fall I'd probably have been impressed here. Isabel Bayrakdarian -- Zerlina -- as poor as I've ever heard her (she was quite good four years back), with a shockingly strained and threadbare sound. One hopes it's just the cold going around at the Met (it's felled seemingly half of the Ring cast and Luciana D'Intino to boot).
Besides these returning veterans, three Met debuts last night. Erin Wall (Donna Anna) was audibly coughing during her second aria -- another cold victim? She still showed a bright, reasonably flexible soprano that easily filled the house. I assume it was a cold that kept her from having any chest mix in the sound, though, because this made for an odd overall impression: more like a huge high soprano than a dramatic coloratura or fuller lyric. Good actress, audience loved her. Pavol Breslik (Ottavio) very good in the ardent middle-European tenor style, not as refined as Matthew Polenzani but appealing in his direct way. Bass-baritone Shenyang (Masetto) quite nervous and unimpressive for his opening aria; showed some of his Cardiff-winning sound in the second act but the role may not sit well for him.
Conductor Louis Langree much better this time around, actually whipping up real excitement for the climactic descent to hell. His (and the orchestra's) soulful accompaniment to the slow arias was a delight.