Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Don Juan Giovanni"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide


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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Carl A. Rossi


based on the works of Molière and Mozart

musical adaptation by Bradley Greenwald

direction by Dominique Serrand

musical direction by Barbara Brooks

surtitles by Steven Epp

Charlotte ... Christina Baldwin
Peter ... Dieter Bierbrauer
Don Giovanni ... Bryan Boyce
Sganarelle ... Steven Epp
Leporello ... Bradley Greenwald
Girl ... Carrie Hennessey
Commendatore ... Bryan Janssen
Elvire ... Jennifer Baldwin Peden
Don Juan ... Dominique Serrand
Donna Anna ... Momoko Tanno
Violins … Daniel Stepner; Julie Leven
Viola … Laura Jeppensen
Cello … Guy Fishman

Two years ago, the Theatre de la Jeune Lune brought its CARMEN to the A.R.T.; if you cared not for its staging, you could close your eyes and still hear Bizet beautifully sung. Its DON JUAN GIOVANNI, also at the A.R.T., demands both eyes and ears as it shuttles between Mozart’s opera and the Molière comedy on which it is based; the play-excerpts are performed in English and the opera-excerpts, in Italian with surtitles. To add further distance, DON JUAN GIOVANNI is presented as a modern-day road trip with the Dons and their servants meeting at a drive-in (the feature film is the opera’s opening trio, followed by the Commendatore’s death via auto accident instead of rapier); the two libertines conclude their journey by being absorbed under the women's skirts, not being dragged down to Hell; this is all tolerable enough as long as Molière is accented by Mozart’s Greatest Hits, but once the opera demands equal time, DON JUAN GIOVANNI becomes a long, long trip, indeed. Fortunately, there is an intermission.

The evening’s pleasure again lies in its singing: the three CARMEN leads --- Bradley Greenwald, Jennifer Baldwin Peden and Christina Baldwin --- are nimble Mozartians in body as well as in voice (Ms. Baldwin, for example, submits to cunnilingus in Juan’s car and rides a bicycle, warbling all the while); Bryan Boyce, Momoko Tanno and Dieter Bierbrauer are more conventional singers and wooden by comparison. Dominique Serrand’s elderly Juan is composed of dry ice, not sperm, and mutely out of place in the opera-ensembles; Steven Epp’s spastic Sganarelle spits vomit into the wings, urinates into a tub (with his back to the audience, natch) and (vocally) climaxes on top of said car which is ever on the move but never goes anywhere. Faint hearts are forewarned that Act Two begins with a BANG! to remind them that they are watching cutting-edge theatre (when the singers are this good, why not simply do the Mozart?)

DON JUAN GIOVANNI plays in repertory with the company’s FIGARO, where Mozart meets Beaumarchais.

"Don Juan Giovanni" (31 August-6 October)
64 Brattle Street, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 547-8300

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide