September 20, 2007
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Don Giovanni Again

At a loose end last night, I decided what I really wanted to do was to get a leftover single and see The Theatre de la Jeune Lune's Don Juan Giovanni again. (I don't do this a lot, and we've also got tickets to their Figaro, so you can gather that I really like this production and that you really should see it if you can get to Boston in the next couple of weeks.)

The Theatre de la Jeune Lune works in mines of which I'm not usually fond: opera, and roots of French theater. They do fascinating things with video on stage; in the first act, for example, we have Don Juan and Sganarelle sitting in a drive-in movie theater, eating popcorn and watching Don Giovanni and Donna Anna sing (I think) Non sperar, se non m'uccidi on screen. But they're not just on screen: they start just offstage, were you can half see them, and the video is live. But it's not just live video on the screen: the camera position is perpendicular to the audience's point of view, so you see the action from the point of view that Don Juan would have if he were watching the action, and not the screen.

This is just a detail, a moment, but it's the sort of theatrical moment that displays the depth of thought that underpins what might seem a frivolous adaptation of a Great Hit. There's a ton of circus fun here (an aria on a bicycle, orgasms in lá ci darem la mano) and some good satire, and some terrific singing.

It's the singing, in the end, that really does it. The whole enterprise is built to get these songs back into a moderately-small theater. Small orchestra (a string quartet and synth), small ensemble; you're right there. It's great.