Golden Curtain-Raiser Dazzling 'Don Giovanni' Opens Lyric Opera's 50th Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Gowen Daily Herald Classical Music Critic

"Don Giovanni"

- Where: Ardis Krainik Theatre, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago

- When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, 4, 7, 9, 15, 19 and 22; 2 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 12

- Tickets: Call for availability; for information on subscribers' turned-back tickets on day of performance, call (312) 332-2244, ext. 5600

Opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Peter Stein, stage director; Ferdinand Wogerbauer, set designer; Moidele Bickel, costume designer. Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.

Starring As

Bryn Terfel Don Giovanni

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo Leporello

Erin Wall Donna Anna

Susan Graham Donna Elvira

Isabel Bayrakdarian Zerlina

Kurt Streit Don Ottavio

Andrea Silvestrelli The Commendatore

Kyle Ketelsen Masetto

What better way to open Lyric Opera of Chicago's Golden Jubilee season than "Don Giovanni"?

The Mozart classic was the Lyric's "calling-card" presentation for its first season in 1954, so appropriately, a new production, designed by Ferdinand Wogerbauer (sets) and Moidele Bickel (costumes) was chosen to launch the 2004-05 season Saturday night. It also marked the Lyric Opera debuts of conductor Christoph Eschenbach and stage director Peter Stein.

"Don Giovanni," a 1787 collaboration between Mozart and the brilliant Italian librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, rightfully belongs on the list of "desert island" operas. And because this is essentially a character-driven drama, a cast of international star quality is essential - which the Lyric has assembled.

Bryn Terfel demonstrates why he is today's finest interpreter of the title role (translated into English as Don Juan). Terfel brings his Don an ideal balance between lust and pity, a character who eventually meets his just reward at the hand of the "ghost" of the Commendatore (the father of one of his numerous sexual conquests), whom he had stabbed to death during a duel in the opera's first scene.

Terfel has sung many major roles here, including Stephen Sondheim's "demon barber," Sweeney Todd, two years ago. …