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Opera on Screen: Don Giovanni

Ever seen opera productions and think, Hey, this would look great on screen! Many directors have had same thoughts and many have produced many wonderful opera films. Opera on screen seems a bit odd. They are not actually singing, so the movie may have a few downsides to it. For example, it has always bugged me when actors, (who are not singers), don't open their mouths enough when there is a high note. I know that it's a stupid thing to care about but it's the little things that matter the most.

Let's take the 1975 movie Don Giovanni, directed by Joseph Losey. The actors are all singers so they know what they're doing in the open-the-mouth thing. Donna Elvira, sung and played by Kiri Te Kanawa, is perfect. Her clothes demonstrate her high position in society, even though inside she feels awfully miserable. Te Kanawa manages that part pretty well. She isn't over-acting or "under-acting". Donna Anna, sung and played by Edda Moser, is also depicted well. She is a noblewoman so her clothing is not much different from Donna Elvira's. Zerlina, on the other hand, is a peasant girl so her clothing is more simple and not as white. Sung and played by Teresa Berganza, Zerlina is a simple girl but very active in her personal life.

Let's get to the male part of things. Ruggero Raimondi is the best Don Giovanni in vocal terms. His voice fits the part perfectly. Jose Van Dam, (Leporello), played the role well and sang it in the same manner. I imagined Leporello and Don Giovanni a bit differently, but these interpretations were understandable. They both had character and charisma. Keneth Riegel, (Don Ottavio), is the complete opposite of what I expected Ottavio to look like but he was still an excellent Ottavio. He manages to get the effect of a man suffering for his fiance. Malcolm King, (Masetto), expresses the mad Masetto in an extraordinary way, but it is still very interesting.

Any operatic movies you know that you would like to discuss?


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