LXXXV Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino: Don Giovanni

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by OPERA Charm Team
April 27, 2023

On Sunday, April 30th, 2023 at 6 p.m., the director emeritus for life Zubin Mehta will conduct the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio, on the podium of the Sala Grande, for the opera Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The direction is by Giorgio Ferrara, revived by Stefania Grazioli

Luca Micheletti, Markus Werba, Jessica Pratt, Anastasia Bartoli, Ruzil Gatin, Benedetta Torre, Eduardo Martinez, Adriano Gramigni the performers of the opera

On April 26th, 2023 the dress rehearsal was offered as a preview to the Under 30 audience

The performance on May 3rd, 2023 will be broadcast live on Rai Radio 3

BIOGRAPHY

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INTERVIEW

After the opening concert conducted by Daniele Gatti, the 85th Maggio Festival gets into full swing, Sunday, April 30th at 6 p.m., with the first opera title on the bill: Don Giovanni, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On the podium of the Sala Grande, at the head of the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio, the director emeritus for life Zubin Mehta. The direction of Mozart’s masterpiece, proposed in the Festival di Spoleto‘s staging, is by Giorgio Ferrara, revived by Stefania Grazioli.
The singing company is made up of Luca Micheletti in the title role, Don Giovanni; Markus Werba as his servant, Leporello; Jessica Pratt as Donna Anna; Ruzil Gatin as Don Ottavio; Anastasia Bartoli as Donna Elvira while Benedetta Torre plays the part of Zerlina. The cast is completed by Eduardo Martinez as Masetto and Adriano Gramigni as the Commendatore.
The sets are by three-time Oscar winner Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo; costumes by Maurizio Galante while the lighting is by Fiammetta Baldiserri.
The maestro of the Maggio Chorus is Lorenzo Fratini.

On April 26th, 2023, the dress rehearsal was offered as a preview to the Under 30 audience that packed the hall and gave a very warm ‘stadium cheer’ to maestro Mehta and all the performers.

After the premiere, four more performances are scheduled: 3, 9 (the performance is already sold out in every seat) and 12 May at 7 pm, and 6 May at 3.30 pm.

Thanks to the Fondazione CR Firenze, the performance of 9/05/2023 is offered to the public with a 50% discount on the price of tickets for each sector. Before each performance there are public presentations of the performances given by Katiuscia Manetta, Maddalena Bonechi and Marco Cosci: the guides are held in the Foyer of the Sala Zubin Mehta and in the Gallery Foyer of the Sala Grande about 45 minutes before the start of the performance. The cycle “Prima le parole, poi la musica” also continues: on Friday, April 28th at 5.30 p.m., in the Foyer of the Sala Grande, the musicologist Maurizio Modugno presents the opera to the audience.

The opera programme of the 85th Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will also kick off with one of the most iconic and best-loved operatic titles of all times: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni, conducted by his emeritus conductor Zubin Mehta, who will also be on the podium of the theatre the day before, April 29th, his birthday, for the Festival’s second symphonic concert with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. Maestro Mehta’s other engagements during the Festival will include conducting Otello, Verdi’s masterpiece on stage from May 20th to 31st (4 performances in total), and the Beethoven concert on May 25th, with Andrea Lucchesini at the piano. In addition, the maestro will take the Maggio Orchestra to Salzburg, on 29 May, for a tribute to Daniel Barenboim in which Martha Argerich, Lang Lang, Cecilia Bartoli, Placido Domingo, Rolando Villazòn, and Sonya Yoncheva will participate.

The opera, the second collaboration of the Salzburg genius with Lorenzo da Ponte, returns to the Maggio theatre ten years after the last time, when it was staged under the direction of Lorenzo Mariani in February 2013, again conducted by Zubin Mehta. It has been staged a total of 10 times in the theatre’s seasons, and has been conducted, and recorded on disc, several times by Maestro Mehta in his career; on three of these occasions with the Maggio conducting ‘his’ orchestra: memorable was the 1990 edition at the Teatro della Pergola, staged under the historic direction of Jonathan Miller.
After two centuries of theatrical and literary narratives, the myth of the noble libertine was moulded by the hands of Mozart and Da Ponte: the result was Il Dissoluto punito or Don Giovanni, which made its debut at Prague’s Ständetheater on October 29th, 1787. Mozart’s opera and its licentious protagonist have received the attention of scholars, philosophers and psychoanalysts over the last few centuries, from Sigmund Freud to Carl Jung, from Albert Camus to Søren Kierkegaard: many have analysed the figure of the dissolute nobleman, helping to fuel the myth of Mozart’s masterpiece.
The staging, applauded by both critics and the public, is that of the Festival di Spoleto signed by Giorgio Ferrara‘s direction, shot by Stefania Grazioli, and the sets by three-time Oscar winner Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo.
The direction deals with the ambiguity of Don Giovanni, almost suspending the events between the world of the living and that of the dead, and this is also reflected in most of the settings within which the story unfolds.

The ensemble features Luca Micheletti in the title role, who returns to the Maggio after the wide public and critical acclaim he received last year at the 84th Festival with the first masterpiece of Mozart and Da Ponte’s collaboration, Le nozze di Figaro. Analysing the complex psychological structure that characterises the part of Don Giovanni, Micheletti, in his third performance of the role this year after performances at Covent Garden and in Turin, emphasised precisely the depth of the character’s roots: “It is said of many roles, but Don Giovanni really never ends: he has ancient origins, which go back as far as puppet theatre. He is the embodiment of the soul of the dissolute who does not want to repent, the atheist who is therefore ultimately punished. This is partly at the heart of this production, where everyone is partly suspended between the world of the living and the world of the dead: the reading that is given from the beginning is not that of the simple womanizer who breaks the hearts of his victims, but investigates his relationship with the God he does not believe exists. It is a struggle of an atheist against those who believe, he challenges the supernatural to the last, until that fatal ‘No!’ that will lead him to hell. A character who defies life to the point of death.”

At his side, in the role of the fearful servant Leporello, is one of the best-loved operatic characters of all time, Markus Werba, also returning after the 84th Maggio Festival where he was among the protagonists of Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Daniele Gatti and directed by Matthias Hartmann. Werba, one of the most internationally acclaimed Mozart interpreters, is making his absolute debut in the role: “For me, the interpretation of Leporello brings to a close the journey of Mozart’s main protagonists: I have voiced almost all the main baritone roles in Mozart’s production, but I had not yet dressed the role of the servant in Don Giovanni. In my reading of the opera, I have always seen the role of Leporello as the one who narrates what we see on stage; he metaphorically opens and closes the story. Despite the fact that this is my debut in the role, I have played Don Giovanni on numerous occasions and I have always noticed that in part he is as if seeking a detachment from his current life and from his master, Don Giovanni: as if Leporello were exploring his past, realising that he would like to be no longer a servant, but a master; he dreams of being one, if only to be able to decide for himself“.

In the role of Donna Elvira, in her absolute debut on the Maggio stage, Anastasia Bartoli, who has voiced the character several times in her career. “Elvira’s great and almost desperate perseverance in trying to make Don Giovanni come to his senses is the focal point of the role,” she pointed out in her analysis of the role. “She is constantly searching for love from the protagonist: unlike Donna Anna, who seeks him only for the sake of revenge, Donna Elvira loves him and will not only interfere in his adventures as a seducer, but will also try right up to the end to reform him from his almost pathological narcissism.

Jessica Pratt, returning to the Maggio a few weeks after her concert on March 10th conducted by maestro Daniele Gatti, plays Donna Anna. The soprano said she was happy and excited both to play the role of Anna, which she had already interpreted in this very production in Bari in 2021, and to be able to work together with maestro Mehta for the first time: “It is truly a joy to be back here in Maggio after such a short time and to be able to do it together with the direction of a legend like Zubin Mehta: Donna Anna is a very strong and serious character, who has lost her father and who is therefore moved, in the course of the opera, solely and exclusively by the desire to avenge his death by getting her hands on the murderer, that is, Don Giovanni. In the end, this revenge will come, even if it is in part almost ‘incomplete’“.

Ruzil Gatin plays Don Ottavio, Anna’s betrothed: the tenor starred a few months ago in last September’s performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia, conducted by Daniele Gatti and directed by Damiano Michieletto.

Benedetta Torre, one of the most acclaimed Mozart interpreters of her generation, is the naive and young Zerlina: she recently starred at the Maggio in another Mozart title, La finta semplice, staged last January. Again with maestro Mehta conducting, she was among the performers in Così fan tutte recorded in March 2021 and staged at the end of August and September 2021: “Zerlina is a character who expresses the simplest feelings and the most earthly impulses with a spontaneity that I find fascinating. Not wanting to compare her totally to Don Giovanni,” says Benedetta Torre in her analysis of her character in this particular production, “it has to be said that she is the only one of the opera’s female protagonists to have a straightforward sensual and seductive drive, which is especially evident in her two graceful arias through the sinuous and, I would say, amusing turns of metaphor that Mozart and Da Ponte dedicated to her. Don Giovanni is an extraordinary opera, one of my favourites, and I am happy to debut this part, which also allows me to express myself to the full on stage. In the production signed by Giorgio Ferrara, the peculiarity will be to see the characters as the protagonists of a story that repeats itself after their own death, an eternal return because in fact the story has ended up unresolved and vague, we don’t really know what has happened to all of them, but only that the encounter with Don Giovanni has changed them profoundly“.

Eduardo Martinez, a talent from the Accademia del Maggio and also starring in La finta semplice in January, plays Zerlina’s bridegroom, Masetto; while the part of the Commendatore, Donna Anna’s father and future ‘Convitato di pietra’ of Don Giovanni is played by a former artist from the Accademia, Adriano Gramigni.

He who says Don Giovanni, says Mozart. Yet the myth of the sacrilegious libertine and unrepentant womanizer is much older. Since the 17th century, tradition has seen him as the protagonist of devotional parable, fable, street theatre, and increasingly numerous literary and musical expressions. After almost two centuries of declinations, the myth arrived in the hands of Mozart and Da Ponte and the result was Il Dissoluto punito or Don Giovanni, a masterpiece that made its debut in Prague on October 29th, 1787. The story is well known to the public but it is thanks to Mozart that the ‘dissolute’ will have its definitive consecration. Indeed, Mozart’s Don Giovanni possesses an unrivalled expressive power. From the overture to the solo arias, from the vocal ensembles to the grandiose finales of the opera’s two acts, comedy and tragedy, earthly world and heavenly world follow one another and interpenetrate admirably and without a break. Don Giovanni even takes on a heroic stature and the fascination he exerts on the listener far outweighs his misdeeds. It is no coincidence that the music is on his side, the dialectic as well, while the characters who are linked to him remain dazzled by his solar energy, shining with reflected light. And so there is little point in the just ending already anticipated by the title: the ‘dissolute’ will indeed burn in the flames of hell, but like the phoenix, he will be reborn from his own ashes with every hearing, because myths – Mozart docet – never die.

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.

BIANCA L. NICA

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