Joseph Losey; screenwriters: Patricia Losey/Lorenzo da
by Rolf Liebermann;
cinematographer: Gerry Fisher; editors: Reginald
Beck/Emma Menenti/Marie Castro Vasquez; music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart;
Giovanni), John Macurdy (The Commander),
Edda Moser (Donna Anna), Kiri Te Kanawa (Donna Elvira),
Kenneth Riegel (Don Ottavio), Teresa Berganza (Zerlina),
Jose Van Dam (Leporello), Malcolm King (Masetto); Runtime:
176; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Luciano De Feo/Robert
Nador/Michel Seydoux; Columbia TriStar Home Video;
1979-Italy/France/West Germany-in Italian with English
"A nearly great adaptation of Mozart's greatest opera."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Joseph Losey ("Mr. Klein"/"The Sleeping Tiger"/"The
Prowler") films a
nearly great adaptation of Mozart's greatest opera, Don Giovanni, the infamous
womanizer, whose story is based on the Don Juan
legend. It was
first performed in Italian by the Prague Italian opera
at the Teatro di Praga on October 29, 1787.
It's faithful to the
original Lorenzo Da Ponte libretto, but as written by Losey it
sneaks in some Marxist polemics to the dismay of some
opera purists. The idea for the screen version comes
Liebermann. Conductor Lorin Maazel handles the orchestra
music; while the
Paris Opera provides the voices, such as Ruggero
Raimondi's booming baritone voice to be the
tragic-comical cad Don Giovanni. Other notable singers include the New Zealander Kiri Te Kanawa as Donna
Elvira, the hysterical spurned woman who haunts Don
Giovanni's life; the soprano Edda Moser as Donna Anna, one of
the rare women the Don can't seduce; the tenor Kenneth
Riegel as Donna Anna's fiance Don Ottavio, who
along with Anna vows revenge on the Don for slaying
her father; and
Jose Van Dam as the servant Leporello, the Don's
unfortunate paid accomplice.
Things become unsettling for Don Giovanni when the ghost of Donna Anna's father, The Commander (John Macurdy), who was killed by the Don in a sword fight while protecting his daughter's virtue during Act 1 starts appearing to him in visions as a statue. In Act 2, the Commander offers the rakish Don one last chance to repent for his improprieties and change his hedonist ways. When the Don refuses, The Commander's spirits drag the Don down to hell and he pays dearly for his amorous adventures by finally being consumed by the furnace.
It was entertaining enough
for this opera novice. The singers were all cast for
their singing ability and not their acting ability,
and all sounded great to someone like me who is not an
authority on opera voices. The costumes, sets,
stunning villas in Venice (changed location from the
opera's Spanish Seville) and Losey's personal visions
were welcome additions to the magnificent original music of the opera.
REVIEWED ON 1/23/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ