BWW Review: DON GIOVANNI at OPERA WROCLAW - Universal Madness
This is a well known story: Don Giovanni - addictive seducer - struggles with life in temptations to meet consequences. Classic Opera from 18th century is still watched all over the world. "Opera buffa" as Mozart described it himself should be comic but in this version the world "comic" doesn't come to mind.
The play is located in an old castle where library serves as a mental institution. It's bold to put this classic masterpiece in this environment. Director (Andre Heller-Lopes) based whole production on this idea in this unusual for opera set up. I bought it all the way.
This play is exciting because director put a new, fresh touch on a classical piece. Action of "Don Giovanni" is placed originally in Sevilla so he followed the lead and put a touch of Iberian culture. Main character is based on great Brasilian Arthur Bispo do Rosario, there is national folklore straight from South America not only in costumes (made by Sofia di Nunzio), but indescribable exotic flavor is in the air. Characters have a passion and a gall of Latino World. Scenography (Renato Theobaldo) is kind of dark but light at the same time. Scene is a big library with bunk beds and every blow of wind is visible.Whole picture is pleasant and involving. And orchestra with conductor Marcin Nalecz-Niesiolowski was an essential element in the show.
There are books - wisdom and prison at the same time where characters wander reliving strong emotions. Everything is black and white - and all the sudden color comes and brings vibes. There is blood of Don Pedro - first emotion of sadness and passion for revenge, then there is a colorful Donna Elvira (my personal favorite as her personage is inspired by Frida Kahlo) dumped by Don Giovanni - she is full of love and devotion but sadness, evil and bitterness at the same time. Main character himself is not white neither. Donna Anna with her deep distress is also far away from white. Color here leads to action and this is a real start for everything.
We all know that Mozart's music is one of te most harmonic ones. It's advised to listen it before studying because can stimulate a brain. Harmony and madness it's a risky combination but in this case pays totally off. Latino team of creators (director, costume designer, stenographer) made a consistent piece of art. Well, Mozart's opera is piece of art itself and 231 years later still can be refreshed and interpreted in a different way. It's hard to imagine that composer would think about this kind of rendition as at year of its premiere in Prague in other city in Europe, in the biggest hospital Pitie Salpetriere, French still paid money to see mad people as Sunday entertainment. At this point psychological problems were known as incurable and patients with disorders were just kept on chains behind the bars. Those bars are also in Heller-Lopes's vision. Literally and as a metaphor.
After this show the question what madness really is will come. Maybe it's just love? Passion? Life? Freedom? Vang Gogh once said: "Normality is a paved road: It's comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it" . The play is for sure a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
Photo credit: Krzysztof Bielinski