2000 (released 2001)
Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by Rhombus Media in association with Bravo Canada, CBC, WNET, NHK, Channel 4
Directed by Barbara Willis Sweete
VHS, color, 56 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Reviewed by Bonnie Jo Dopp, Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland
Dmitri Horostovsky sings both Leporello and Don Giovanni in this clever reduction of Mozart’s darkest comic opera. Though occasionally the baritones starring in long runs of Don Giovanni switch roles for the last performance, and Peter Sellars cast twins in the roles for his staging of the opera in contemporary Harlem, only in film and video can the same singer appear as both Don Juan and his faithful servant. In this case, Leporello is portrayed as a storytelling host, narrating a kind of “living home movie” depicting the lecherous Giovanni and his victims. Mozart actually gave Leporello more arias than he did Giovanni, and it “works” musically to cast him as the lead role. The video becomes engagingly surreal when characters on the black-and-white “home movie” screen interact with characters watching the movie, and more “doubles” are detected. The surprise ending ties everything together. Well sung, elegant, entertaining and bold, this prize-winning film directed by Barbara Willis Sweete presents such a quirky (and abbreviated) version of the opera that it can be recommended only as a supplement for library collections already owning other more standard interpretations.