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Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Mozart: Don Giovanni
Jerusalem International Convention Center
Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, in a concert performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta, started promisingly with an appropriately dramatically rendered overture.
The chromatic ascending and descending scales sounded effectively ominous, foreshadowing the menacing appearance of the Commendatore's statue in the final scene. When the murdered Commendatore finally appeared, however, these significant chromatics were drowned in the orchestral and vocal din. Quite a pity! The lack of scenery was an advantage, permitting the performers and audience to concentrate on the musical essentials. The singers' acting was suggestive and in fairly good taste, without gliding into exaggerations.
Among the male roles, Maurizio Muraro's dark basso buffo, as Leporello, stole the show. He displayed genuine vocal and dramatic comic talent. Considering his performance, this production might as well have been called Don Leporello.
In the title role, it was difficult to overcome one's disappointment at the advertised Ruggero Raimondi's absence. Unfair though comparisons admittedly are, substitute Nicola Ulivieri's friendly bass, though appealingly resounding, lacked the charisma and sardonicism of Giovanni's character.
As the Commendatore, Marco Spotti's pleasant bass sounded more soft-sung than frightening. Tenor Dmitry Korchak represented a lyric, moving Don Ottavio.
Soprano Hen Reiss convincingly captured the quality of her soubrette role. Her combination of irresistible vocal and personal charm made her the perfect personification of the mischievous Zerlina.
Anna Samuil's bright and forceful soprano sounded impressive, but did not radiate the dignity of Donna Anna.
Soprano Maria Luigia Borsi evoked compassion for her perpetual unhappiness, but did so with a dose of hysterical expression at the expense of a more lyric one.
In all, it was a gripping, well-paced performance, amusing when required and sometimes moving when it should be.