One of the perks of my day job at a major NYC institution is getting discount tickets to various shows and events. When I saw “The Metropolitan Opera,” “Don Giovanni,” and “Luca Pisaroni,” listed, I actually put it in my calendar to buy tickets as soon as they went on sale. After singing my first Zerlina last December, I was even more eager to see a full production of Don Giovanni live. Plus, I’ve been a big fan of Luca’s for a while now and really wanted to see him in one of his signature roles: Leporello (I dare you to watch this rendition of the Catalog Aria, “Madamina, il catalogo è questo,” and not be charmed).
It had been a while since my last visit to the Met and I was going to see Don Giovanni, so it was with great anticipation and excitement that I made my way to Lincoln Center after work on Friday. Fellow soprano Jen and I met up for a coffee and catch-up session before the show, and Baritone Boy joined us a little later.
It was a great performance, with all the characters well-portrayed and fully-embodied. We were sitting up in Family Circle, and more so than any other time I’ve been to the Met, I wished for opera glasses to really see and get the full effect of facial expressions and nuanced moments. It’s really the intricate relationships between the characters (combined with the magical music, of course) that makes this opera so interesting and so well-loved.
In particular, the relationship between Leporello and Don Giovanni is one that has been interpreted and played in so many ways… In this performance (and from our seats, at least), the servant-master line seemed to be in place most of the time, with Leporello finding flashes of courage (or fear) that gave him enough reason to speak up and put up a bit of a fight in the face of Giovanni’s wild disregard for everything but his own pleasure. Peter Mattei as Don Giovanni was utterly fabulous, and Luca completely delivered as Leporello. What could be read clearly, even all the way up in Family Circle, was the ease with which they played off one another.
The Catalog Aria didn’t disappoint, with Leporello patiently and gleefully making his mille e tre point… and my favorite bit of staging of the entire night was probably the way the many windows of the set were used during this aria to illustrate Giovanni’s conquests.
An unexpected highlight of the night was Peter’s “Deh vieni alla finestra.” It’s a simple aria, which, of course, means it is really difficult to pull off. This was the most seductive and beautifully phrased rendition I’ve ever heard, with delicious diction, moments of fearlessly piano dynamics, and ornaments that delighted my ears. The rest of Peter’s Giovanni had already made me a fan, but this understated performance has made me determined to catch him in as many other shows as possible.
After the show I did something I’ve never done before – staked-out the Met Opera stage door. It was really cold, but it was worth it because:
Two interesting things I learned during this stage door stake-out: Peter is very tall; so is Luca (in the second picture, I’m standing on the raised sidewalk and Luca is standing at street level).
I was also completely thrilled by the warmth both of them showed to their fans… Even after a big performance at the biggest opera stage in the country and being the international stars they are, they laughed, joked, smiled, signed, and took pictures with a friendliness and graciousness that made waiting in the freezing cold absolutely worth it.
Oh yes, like a big opera nerd, I brought my Don Giovanni score with me to the opera and got some autographs …
… and was rewarded with a shout-out from Luca!
It was a great night of entertainment and adventure at the opera. Thank you to Mozart and Da Ponte for the excellent music and words, and thank you to the singers who made it all come alive and still had energy to interact with their fans afterwards!