TIME­LESS CLAS­SIC NCPA set to thrill fans with Mozart’s re­ports.

Cheng Yuezhu

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 12 Life -

After pro­duc­ing Die Zauber­flote in 2009 and Le nozze di Fi­garo in 2016, the Na­tional Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts in Bei­jing is stag­ing an­other of Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart’s time­less clas­si­cal op­eras, Don Gio­vanni, from Tues­day to Sat­ur­day.

Many lit­er­ary and theater works have been writ­ten based on the story of the lib­er­tine Don Gio­vanni, or Don Juan, in the past 400 years. But the two-act opera by Mozart and li­bret­tist Lorenzo Da Ponte is ar­guably the most renowned.

Speak­ing about the up­com­ing pro­duc­tion, Zhao Tiechun, the vice-pres­i­dent of the NCPA, says: “We de­cided to present the ab­struse Don Gio­vanni to the au­di­ence, only after in­tro­duc­ing them to Mozart’s op­eras with The Magic Flute and The Mar­riage of Fi­garo, as part of a method­olog­i­cally ar­ranged reper­toire plan.”

Ac­cord­ing to Zhao, Don Gio­vanni, with its long recita­tives, com­pli­cated plot, in­tri­cate char­ac­ter re­la­tion­ships, and fre­quent changes of scenes, might be slightly dif­fi­cult for the au­di­ence to com­pre­hend.

Mean­while, Yan­nis Kokkos, a Greek stage direc­tor who di­rected the opera Lu­cia di Lam­mer­moor by Gae­tano Donizetti at the NCPA in 2017, again take the helm as the direc­tor, set de­signer and cos­tume de­signer.

Speak­ing about his lat­est as­sign­ment, Kokkos, who has won the Lau­rence Olivier and Moliere awards, says: “We want to make all the el­e­ments im­me­di­ately un­der­stood, even by first-time view­ers,” while ex­plain­ing the dif­fi­culty in do­ing so be­cause the char­ac­ter of Don Gio­vanni is com­pli­cated.

“Don Gio­vanni is a very mys­te­ri­ous and dis­turbed per­son. No one re­ally un­der­stands what he thinks. He is re­ally a per­son who has in him the sense of liv­ing in the mo­ment. He has no past, no fu­ture, just the plea­sure of the mo­ment.” Kokkos says.

Sep­a­rately, the NCPA, as pre­vi­ous pro­duc­tions go, uses two sets of cast, one in­ter­na­tional and one Chi­nese, for the opera.

Don Gio­vanni in the in­ter­na­tional cast is played by the Ital­ian bari­tone Vit­to­rio Prato.

Speak­ing about the char­ac­ter, he echoes Kokkos, say­ing: “To me, he (Don Gio­vanni) is not only a se­ducer, but a sym­bol of men who en­joy life and sat­isfy their own de­sire and ego. He doesn’t fol­low con­ven­tion, and I be­lieve that’s why many peo­ple are at­tracted to this char­ac­ter.”

For the Chi­nese cast, Don Gio­vanni is played by Zhang Yang, a NCPA res­i­dent opera singer. After be­ing as­signed the role, Zhang de­clined al­most all of his other per­for­mance op­por­tu­ni­ties in the past half year.

“This is the char­ac­ter for whom I have de­voted the most ef­fort. It is quite chal­leng­ing, as I am re­quired to sing al­most from the very be­gin­ning to the end. And be­cause of the charm­ing ap­pear­ance of this char­ac­ter, I have lost about 9 kilo­grams,” Zhang says.

“The deeper I get to know the li­bretto, the greater Mozart seems to me. I want to present my best per­for­mance and give my full co­op­er­a­tion to the direc­tor and the crew.” Zhang adds.

Speak­ing about his job of di­rect­ing the cast mem­bers, Kokkos says: “It’s very in­ter­est­ing for me to di­rect two sets of peo­ple in re­al­iz­ing the same vi­sion, the same dream.”

As for the mu­sic, this pro­duc­tion fea­tures the orig­i­nal Vi­en­nese ver­sion score pub­lished by the Baren­re­iter pub­lish­ing house, and will be per­formed by the NCPA Orches­tra un­der the ba­ton of Lyu Jia, the artis­tic direc­tor of mu­sic at the NCPA.

Com­ment­ing on the mu­sic, Lyu says: “This opera writ­ten in Ital­ian re­ally is the pin­na­cle of Mozart’s opera works. It is a per­fect com­bi­na­tion of mu­sic, drama, stage and di­a­logue, and por­trays ev­ery char­ac­ter in a vivid way. Many of to­day’s opera works can­not meet this stan­dard.

“I be­lieve the chal­lenge re­ally lies in how to present the char­ac­ters’ psy­che and man­age the en­tire stage.”

Kokkos con­curs, say­ing that Don Gio­vanni was an avant­garde work at its time. And he in­tends to bal­ance the el­e­ments of com­edy and tragedy, and max­i­mize the dra­matic ef­fect of the opera, via his mod­est yet richly il­lus­tra­tive stage de­sign.

“We want to present the opera like a fan­tasy by con­struct­ing a mod­ern and com­plex view of the space, with many meta­phoric and spir­i­tual ideas,” Kokkos says.

Con­tact the writer at [email protected] chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The NCPA pro­duc­tion of is due to start from Tues­day in Bei­jing; direc­tor, set de­signer and cos­tume de­signer Yan­nis Kokkos (right) in­structs the opera singers dur­ing a re­hearsal; and Ital­ian bari­tone Vit­to­rio Prato (right) plays the role of Don Gio­vanni in the in­ter­na­tional cast.

Clock­wise from top:DonGio­vanni

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