Ivo van Hove concretes his "Don Giovanni"


The new staging of Mozart's work, presented at the Palais Garnier, favors acting to the detriment of music.

By Marie-Aude Roux Posted today at 08:30, updated at 09:34

Time to Reading 4 min.

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Elsa Dreisig (Zerlina) and Etienne Dupuis (Don Giovanni) in Mozart's opera directed by Ivo van Hove.
Elsa Dreisig (Zerlina) and Etienne Dupuis (Don Giovanni) in Mozart's opera directed by Ivo van Hove. CHARLES DUPRAT / NATIONAL OPERA OF PARIS

Last production of the 350 years of the Paris Opera, the new Don Giovanni, of Mozart, entrusted to Ivo van Hove, bears a heavy toll. That of succeeding the master stroke directed in 2006 by Michael Haneke, that three times in Bastille (2007, 2012, 2015) did not blunt. If the bet of the box office will probably be won (no less than thirteen performances until July 16), the question of registration in the directory remains.

Read the review (in January 2006): Mozart powered by Haneke

Despite the formal intelligence of a talk fed to the gall of ultra-liberalism that restored the law of the strongest, this Don Giovanni without scale disappoints. Too systematically dehumanized, the direction of actors seems to be exonerated from the music, left vacant like the three large empty architectures that serve as a setting, Piranian space mechanics with a trajectory almost more fluid than that of the characters . Thus the line of flight of the beginning and the flights of stairs ensuring the impunity of the "dissoluto", will be seen little by little diffracted in as many trapping anfractuosities (there will be even the nave of church interviewed during the " Mi tradi 'compassionate Elvira). Before the three suddenly tightened blocks turn the troublemaker back to the wall.

Read the portrait (March 2015): Ivo van Hove, the theater as a fight of wild beasts

Don Giovanni walks on a volcano, whose fumaroles escaped from the ground remind us that hell plows our steps. It does not touch our lives and our hearts. This world of gray and cold ash, which dresses with wall-hues until the wedding of Zerlina, sketches the portrait of an incompetent predator, as evidenced by the scene of surrender of the starlet-like young woman, releasing a time her love from Masetto for a miniature Harvey Weinstein talking about social climbing. Neither transgenic ogre nor promethean rebel, nor even frankly seductive, this Don Giovanni looks like a bodyguard, without an ounce of soul and ambiguity, seems to enjoy the only power that gives him his dominant position.

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Was it necessary to evade Mozart from all metaphysical temptation, from all belief in man, from every prospect of love? That Ivo van Hove betrays Casanova wrapped seducers and Donjuanesque myths impregnated with romance is one thing. That he somehow mithridates music is another. The famous "Air of Champagne", bickering Leporello for the possession of the famous book of accounts of conquests, the no less famous "Serenade" sung face against a wall desperately deserted by eroticism, removes still the title role the little free song that Mozart grants him, leaving Don Giovanni only the ultimate duel of titans against a Commander in the middle, white shirt open on a bloody tee-shirt. In the pit, the musicians of Philippe Jordan will finally give to the above-mentioned scene the tragic intensity whose opening, premonitory of the drama, only laid the foundations.


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