If Socrates had been in my seat at Glyndebourne on 18 August it is possible that he might, as was his wont, have wanted to ask a few questions about the performance, such as: Why use the Vienna version and not the usual one? Just for a change? It deprives us of Il mio tesoro, adds a lively duet for Zerlina and Leporello and shortens the coda-finale. Why design sets that are so monumental that they dwarf the singers? Mind you, they are very handsome (Paul Brown). Jonathan Kent’s production is also handsome but, as so often nowadays, it ignors the class distinctions and social mores of the times the drama is set in. For example, even supposing that she would listen to a servant’s catalogue of his master’s amorous conquests, Elvira would not forget her social station so much as to go down on her knees in a street – nor allow Leporello to goose her, now would she?
The Don’s amazing escape at the end of act one is made with the aid of flamesshooting up all over the set. But surely the place for flames is when the Don gets his come-uppance at the end and is dragged down to hell?
La ci darem. Why does Don take Zerlina’s hand before he asks the question? Mozartclearly points out the acutal moment when Zerlina gives way; why anticipate it, it spoils the seduction?
O.K. Socarates, thats enough questions. So lets look at the performaers. Glyndebourne’s musical director, Vladimir Jurowski, handed over the nine August performances to Jakub Hrusa, associate conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, who is going to direct the Glyndebourne Touring Opera this autumn; he conducted a stylish, taut performance of the Don, beginning with an Overture whose allegro showed him to be more of a hare than a tortoise, more of an Arturo T. Than an Otto K. Or a Reggie G..The star of this performance came from below the salt; Luca Pisaroni was a brilliant Leporello, so good that he put Gerald Finley’s well sung Don in the shade, rather low voltage, one couldn’t image this Don chalking up 1003 sedutions, seareely 501 ½. Kate Royal’s Elvira had some very luke-warm reviews but she was in good voice on August 18 although I think she was miscast. The Russian Donna Anna, Anna Samuil, warmed up for second act after a dsappointing opening Zerlina, Anna Virovlansky, also Russian, was excellent, it would be a pleasure to darem her mano any day of the week.
So after the questions, the answer is that this was an enjoyable Don, if not a great one. It was certainly an improvement on the last Sussex Don – remember that dreadful dead horse and its all too visible gizzards?