Sometimes you read a book, see the play or opera again after many years, and it is completely different. With books, the change is probably in the reader, it happened to me many times. The book was the same, I was a different person to when I read it first.
It happened to me in Prague with Don Giovanni.
I saw it in the same theatre where it premiered on 29th October 1787.
I know the opera well, I saw it about 25x with my first boyfriend, an opera singer, who loved it, and in Covent Garden with a friend this July, but this production was very different. Two young male directors, rather bold. I like bold. It was fantastic albeit rather controversial.
Worked for me, but they were almost having sex on the stage. There was a scene when Don Giovanni is seducing the rather flirty Zerlina, but you are not completely sure who is seducing whom. Zerlina removes and then puts on again -no nudity seen, this is opera- bright red panties, as a powerful sexual symbol. The scene of Don Giovanni and Zerlina was rather erotic, although they were again fully dressed. Zerlina in this production was not a poor seduced peasant girl, she was a young woman who is having fun and who was clever enough to get away with it.
It was all somehow tongue in cheek, you almost sympathised with Don Giovanni, because he was smart and rather charming albeit non-scrupulous. It made sense, why would all those women fall for him if not for his charm?! The others- Elvira, Donna Anna, Masetto, seemed, somehow a bit stupid. More moral, but rigid, their characters rather uni -dimensional.
Leporello and Zerlina were not. They were smart and witty. It made me think about how revolutionary having smart peasants or servants was in 18th century.
It is the same in Marriage of Figaro. Of course, Pierre de Beaumarchais who wrote the original play was thrown to the Bastille for it by an offended Louis XVI. Even as an opera, the text is pretty revolutionary. I knew that, but somehow, I never noticed this with Don Giovanni before.
I loved it and the singing was very good, too. I love going to Prague, see all those old places and old friends. If you have never been, try it!
And nope, I am not being paid by the Czech Tourist board.