Simon Keenlyside Stars as Don Giovanni Conducted by Fabio Luisi On Great Performances at the Met Sunday, February 19 at 12 p.m. on PBS
Charismatic baritone Simon Keenlyside stars as the title character in Don Giovanni, bringing his acclaimed interpretation of the role to THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met for the first time. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi conducts Tony Award-winner Michael Grandage’s staging of Mozart’s masterpiece. The opera airs Sunday, February 19 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.)
The international cast also includes Hibla Gerzmava as Donna Anna, Malin Byström as Donna Elvira, Serena Malfi as Zerlina, Paul Appleby as Don Ottavio, Adam Plachetka as Leporello, Matthew Rose as Masetto, and Kwangchul Youn as the Commendatore.
Don Giovanni premiered at National Theater (now Estates Theater), Prague, 1787. Aided by his ingenious librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart approached his operatic retelling of the Don Juan myth from a point of view that is neither tragic nor entirely comic, but rather lighthearted, urbane, and ironic. We follow the title character and his earthy comic sidekick, Leporello, through a series of encounters that begins with a fatal duel, moves back and forth between the humorous and the sentimental, and ends with the protagonist being dragged down to hell.
The city of Seville in southern Spain, where Mozart originally set his opera, was already famous in his time as a mythical world of winding streets, hot-blooded young men, and exotically beautiful women sequestered behind latticed windows. The Met’s production places the action in an unnamed Spanish city in the mid-18th century.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was the son of a Salzburg court musician who exhibited him as a musical prodigy throughout Europe. His achievements in opera, in terms of beauty, vocal challenge, and dramatic insight, remain unsurpassed. Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749–1838), who led an adventurous life in Venice and Vienna, also collaborated with Mozart on Le Nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte. He later emigrated to America, where he became the first professor of Italian at New York’s Columbia College (now University).
Critics welcomed the production with praise. “The best news is that the much-loved British baritone Simon Keenlyside…was back, lithe and physically deft, in the title role,” observed The Guardian.
“The production can serve as a platform for excellent singing, and that was supplied here by a strong group of women: the warm-toned Russian Hibla Gerzmava as Donna Anna, the lyrically flighty Swede Malin Byström as Donna Elvira, and the appealingly earthy Italian Serena Malfi as Zerlina,” wrote The New York Times.
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato hosts the broadcast.
Production: Michael Grandage. Set & Costume Designer: Christopher Oram. Lighting Designer: Paule Constable. Choreographer: Ben Wright. Revival Stage Director: Louisa Muller.
Don Giovanni was originally seen live in movie theaters on October 22 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 21 million viewers since its inception in 2006.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Major funding for the Met Opera presentation is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Matthew Diamond directs the telecast. David Frost is Music Producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
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WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.
About the Met
THE METROPOLITAN OPERA is America’s leading performing arts organization and a vibrant home for the world’s most creative and talented artists, including singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. The company presents more than 200 performances each season of a wide variety of operas, ranging from early masterpieces to contemporary works. In recent years, the Met has launched many initiatives designed to make opera more accessible, most prominently the Live in HD series of cinema transmissions, which dramatically expands the Met audience by allowing select performances to be seen in more than 2,000 theaters in more than 70 countries around the world.