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2016-09, Met New York, Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Librettist: Lorenzo da Ponte
Venue and Dates: Metropolitan Opera New York
September 27, October 1,5,8,11,15,19,22 ( HD Transmission)
Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Director: Michael Grandage
Set & Costumes Designer: Christopher Oram
Lightening Designer: Paule Constable
Choreographer Ben Wright

Don Giovanni
Simon Keenlyside
The Commentatore Kwangchul Youn
Donna Anna Hibla Gerzmava
Don Ottavio Paul Appleby    (Rolando Villazón has withdrawn due to illness)
Donna Elvira Malin Byström
Leporello Adam Plachetka
Zerlina Serena Malfi
Masetto Matthew Rose


transcription of Simon’s interview with Joyce DiDonato during the Live Broadcast


This production will be the Metropolitan Opera’s video stream on Monday 25 January 2021. The stream will be available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT (US time) until 6:30 p.m. the following day – so available to watch in Europe all day on 26 January. 


Link to full details of the original production on the Metropolitan Opera website.

Sound bites

Fiona Maddocks, Observer, 02.10.16

“…. The best news is that the much-loved British baritone Simon Keenlyside forced to abandon the stage for a prolonged period because of vocal and other health problems, was back, lithe and physically deft, in the title role…”

James R Oestreich, New York Times, 28.9.16

“…….he seemed in fine shape, vocally and physically. His voice rang out cleanly and clearly, and he showed good stamina in a portrayal long on physical exertion.

Paul J Pelkonen, Super Conductor blog, 28.9.16

“……They were led by Simon Keenlyside, looking hale and sounding healthy after a four year absence from the Met stage. Mr. Keenlyside has been singing this role for two decades, and brought comic timing, his slightly dry, intelligent baritone and bits of welcome stage business that snazzed up this show. …..”

Ako Imamura, Bachtrack, 28 September 2016

3 stars

“..Simon Keenlyside …. sang with beautiful long legato in higher range, and the role of Don Giovanni with many recitative passages suited him well. ……He acted not only with his voice but with his body; his face registered Don’s every emotion and thought.  It was difficult to take one’s eyes off this magnetic presence…”

Eric C Simpson, New York Classical Review, 28 September 2016

“…Simon Keenlyside….played the title role well, strutting brazenly about the stage and showing fine musicianship in his singing……”

Richard Sasanow, Broadway Review, 30 September 2016

“……Simon Keenlyside… turned in a well-sung but too low-key performance…”

Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, 30 September 2016 (fee payable)

4 stars

(We are not permitted to reproduce any part of this review.)

Christopher Browner, classicalsource.com, 08 October 2016

4 stars

“….Simon Keenlyside’s Don Giovanni arrives with long, greasy hair and a gaunt countenance, reflecting the toll taken by the infamous lover’s life of dissipation. His portrayal is in equal parts suave and unhinged, keeping us guessing as to what his next move might be. Keenlyside maintained a seductive, chocolaty tone and displayed dexterity and intelligence in recitatives……”

Lukas Link,Der Neue Merker, 22.11.16

“… In der Titelrolle feierte Simon Keenlyside nach Krankheit und langer Genesungszeit in einer seiner Paraderollen sein Comeback auf der Bühne der Metropolitan Opera. Keenlyside präsentierte sich in sehr guter stimmlicher Verfassung, sein Bariton klar und robust, mit hervorragender Phrasierung. Besonders hinreißend im Piano, seine Liederqualitäten kamen in der Serenade bestens zur Geltung. Keenlyside‘s Giovanni ist ein Energiebündel. Es ist ein Genuss zu sehen, was er an darstellerischen Feinheiten aus der Rolle herausholen kann. Auch rein physisch ist der Sänger in Topform. Es ist schon beeindruckend wie der englische Bariton in der Schlussszene aus dem Stand heraus auf den Tisch springt. Das soll ihm mal einer nachmachen. … Am Ende gab es viel Jubel vom MET-Publikum und auch die Kinobesucher zeigten sich begeistert. Mit Recht. Joyce DiDonato führte als Moderatorin durch den Abend und schaffte es tatsächlich, alle Protagonisten, mit Ausnahme des Komturs  (Youn), zu interviewen. Nach dem Schlussvorhang durften die Zuschauer dann nochmal einen Blick hinter die Kulissen werfen und beobachten, wie die Sänger sich alle gegenseitig liebevoll umarmten, und sie sich mehr oder weniger voneinander verabschiedeten. Es war die letzte Vorstellung dieser Aufführungsserie. Die Sänger strömten hinaus zu neuen Aufgaben.”

“… In the title role, Simon Keenlyside celebrated his comeback to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera after illness and a long recovery period in one of his signature roles. Keenlyside appeared in very good vocal condition, his baritone clear and robust, with excellent phrasing. Particularly captivating when singing piano, his vocal qualities were heard at their best in the Serenade. Keenlyside’s Giovanni is a bundle of energy. It is a pleasure to see what he can get out of the role through the subtletly of his acting. Also, purely physically, the singer is on top form. It is really impressive when the English baritone jumps from a standing position onto the table in the final scene. It would be difficult to find anyone who could imitate him. …  At the end there was much cheering from the audience at the Met and the spectators at the cinema in Vienna were also enthusiastic – and rightly so. Joyce DiDonato acted as presenter throughout the evening and actually managed to interview all the protagonists apart from the Commendatore (Youn). After the final curtain, the viewers were allowed to take a look behind the scenes and watch the singers hug each other affectionately as they said their farewells. It was the last performance of this run and the singers are moving on to new roles.”

MaryGNguyen, Trend FEM, 23.10.16

5 stars

“…Last night Keenlyside proved that he had mastered the role of Giovanni. He has the ability to display both a vulgar and licentious Giovanni to his servant Leporello whilst presenting a more polished Spanish gentlemen to others, including the noblemen and ladies he intends on wooing. …”

Jordi Koiman, operamagazine.nl, 23.10.16

(in Dutch – a small section is translated below)

“….In my eyes, only Simon Keenlyside knew how to escape the dullness of the staging. After a difficult time with health problems the, for him, very familiar role of Don Giovanni marked his return to the Met. Vocally he was a little flatter and coarser then before, but his understanding of the text was as great as ever and in his acting he deserves the crown. His Giovanni was both desirable and repulsive. Elusive from the people around him. Too spirited to bow to anything or anyone. Even facing death he remained stubbornly himself…”

(In French  -a small section is translated below)

“…Enfin remis de ses ennuis de santé, Simon Keenlyside revient sur la scène du Met dans un emploi qui convient  idéalement à ses moyens vocaux. Son Don Giovanni hâbleur, manipulateur, séducteur impénitent, domine le plateau de bout en bout. La voix n’a rien perdu de son sex-appeal ni de sa projection pour autant que l’on puisse en juger à travers une retransmission au cinéma. Sa sérénade à la ligne impeccable, d’une séduction irrésistible, son air du Champagne ébouriffant, pris à un rythme d’enfer et sa scène finale spectaculaire montrent qu’il est toujours l’un des deux ou trois meilleurs interprètes actuels du rôle…..”

“…Finally putting his health problems behind him, Simon Keenlyside, returns to the stage at the Met in a part that is ideally suited to his voice. His Don Giovanni a bragging, manipulative, unrepentant seducer, dominates the the piece from start to finish. His voice has lost nothing of its sex-appeal nor of its projection as far as we can judge from a cinema broadcast. The impeccable line in the Serenade, irresistibly seductive, his cocky Champagne aria, taken at a pace from hell and his final spectacular scene show that he is always one of the two or three best current interpreters of the role…”

Trevor Gills, operasense.com, 25.10.16

“….Simon Keenlyside’s Giovanni was sly, malleable, and infuriating …….He was spot-on in the act two finale, and I will never forget his unflinching derision as the Commendatore dealt him that fatal touch. Keenlyside’s Giovanni was Don Giovanni to the bitter end, just as he should have been.”

George Loomis, Opera Magazine. December 2016 (subscription required)

“On September 27 the Metropolitan Opera welcomed back Simon Keenlyside, singing Don Giovanni here for the first time…..His flexible baritone remains as appealing as ever in Mozart, and he comported himself with the verve and magnetism the role demands…..”

Francois Lesueur, Wanderer, 17.11.16

Simon Keenlyside: Don Giovanni for ever

“Réduit au silence pendant de longs mois, comme son confère Dimitri Hvorotsovsky, le baryton Simon Keenlyside a choisi la scène du Met pour faire son retour, qui plus est dans Don Giovanni, rôle qu’il n’avait encore jamais interprété à New York. Si le chanteur est depuis quelques années attiré par les grands Verdi de Posa à Macbeth en passant par Rigoletto, Don Giovanni n’a jamais quitté son répertoire, ce personnage accompagnant chaque étape de sa carrière et bénéficiant de son évolution et de sa maturité artistique. Ainsi l’aura-t-on vu et entendu dans toute son insolente jeunesse dirigé par Claudio Abbado (DG 1997), d’un rare perversité dans les mains de Sven-Eric Bechtholf (Zürich 2007 DVD EMI), effrayant dans la production de David Mc Vicar à Londres (2008 Dvd Opus Arte), ou pervers déjanté chez Calixto Bieito (Barcelone 2008 ), chacune de ses facettes composant un portrait kaléidoscopique en perpétuel mouvement. Nous aurions bien sûr préféré retrouver Simon Keenlyside dans un spectacle moins simpliste et routinier que celui de Michael Grandage. Face au manque d’inspiration et au nombre limité de répétitions, la chanteur compose un personnage mûrissant, pas encore totalement blasé, mais qui connaît le monde et la vie, et veut encore en jouir sans entrave. Séducteur invétéré, il manipule son entourage sans cynisme, plutôt par habitude, n’ayant jamais eu à lutter contre plus fort que lui, jusqu’à ce que le Commandeur croise son chemin… La voix intacte, tout juste moins colorée que par le passé, sonne avec vigueur sur tout le registre opérant de subtiles variation entre la hardiesse du maître et la douceur de l’amant qu’il ne peut s’empêcher d’être….”

“Reduced to silence for long months, like his contemporary Dimitri Hvorotsovsky, the baritone Simon Keenlyside has chosen the Met stage to make his return, what’s more as Don Giovanni, a role that he has never before interpreted in New York. If the vocalist has, for a few years, been attracted by the great Verdi parts, from Posa to Macbeth via Rigoletto, Don Giovanni has never left his repertoire, this character has accompanied each stage of his career and benefitted from its evolution and its artistic maturity. As well as his aura we have seen and heard his insolent youth, directed by Claudio Abbado (DG 1997), a rare perversity in the hands of Sven-Eric Bechtholf (Zürich 2007 EMI DVD), frightening in David Mc Vicar’s production in London (2008 DVD Opus Arte), perverse or quirky with Calixto Bieito (Barcelona 2008 ), each of his component facets a kaleidoscopic portrait in perpetual movement. We would of course have preferred to find Simon Keenlyside in a show less simplistic and routine than that of Michael Grandage. In the face of lack of inspiration and the limited number of repetitions, the singer composed a ripening character, not yet fully blasé, but one who knows the world and life and still wants to enjoy this without hindrance. Inveterate seducer, he manipulates his entourage without cynicism, rather by habit, having never had anyone fight hard, until the Commander crosses his path… The voice intact, just less colourful than in the past, rings with force on the entire registry operating subtle variation between the boldness of the master and the softness of the lover that he cannot stop being….”



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

julia lee June 25, 2018 at 3:55 pm

I’ve found a website which has some fantastic pictures of this version. https://www.metimkino.de/termine/archiv/saison-20162017/

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