- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Three debuting singers added zest to a star-studded reprise of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” that’s returned to the Metropolitan Opera in the waning weeks of the season.

Most impressive among them was Pavol Breslik, a young tenor from Slovakia who sang the role of Don Ottavio on Monday night. His light, honeyed voice seems ideally suited to Mozart’s refined melodic line, and he put on an exemplary display of breath control with his long, unbroken phrases in the aria, “Il mio tesoro.” Don Ottavio, who has little to do but proclaim his devotion to the heroine, Donna Anna, as she seeks vengeance for her father’s murder, can seem a wooden character. But Breslik brought him to life as an ardent, courtly suitor.

He is one of several young tenors _ others include Piotr Beczala and Joseph Calleja _ who are gaining prominence at the Met, a welcome development at a time when the career of Rolando Villazon appears to be unraveling just as he was on the brink of superstardom.

As Don Ottavio’s beloved, Canadian soprano Erin Wall made an auspicious debut in a particularly difficult role. Mozart gives Donna Anna two showpiece arias, the second one requiring considerable coloratura dexterity. Though her technique here was not flawless, she did a more-than-creditable job and throughout the evening displayed an attractive, flexible voice with secure high notes that carried nicely in the hall.

The third newcomer was harder to judge. A bass-baritone from China who uses the single name Shenyang, he made his debut as Masetto, the country bumpkin fiance of Zerlina, one of the many women Don Giovanni is trying to seduce. Shenyang won the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2007 and is enrolled in the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. His voice, while impressively even throughout its range, sounded muffled in his first scene and only fleetingly thereafter did he make much impression. His stage demeanor was a bit awkward, but that suited the character well.

These three joined a cast of first-rate veterans, starting with Swedish baritone Peter Mattei, whose combination of mellifluous singing and physical swagger make him ideal for the title role. Italian soprano Barbara Frittoli, previously heard here as Donna Anna, switched to Donna Elvira for these performances and showed complete command of the character and music. Isabel Bayrakdarian, the Lebanese-born soprano of Armenian heritage, sparkled as Zerlina. Having the veteran American bass Samuel Ramey as Don Giovanni’s servant Leporello counts as luxury casting, even if his once-secure sound is now more wobbly than not.

Louis Langree conducted the orchestra with an elegant touch, though a brisker tempo at times would have been welcome.


On the Net:


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide