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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Don Giovanni at the Slovak National Theater

    Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni - opera in two acts (dramma giocoso), sung in Italian, with Slovak surtitles

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    Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was
    Premiered by the Prague Italian Opera at the National Theater (of Bohemia), now called the Estates Theatre, on 29 October 1787

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    A production by the Slovenské Národné Divadlo (Slovak National Theater) attended in person on June 29, 2018

    Consult the website of the company, at www.snd.sk

    This article is part of the Opera Lively coverage of opera houses in the German-speaking area of Central Europe in the Summer of 2018 (and Slovak-speaking) - see the links to numerous other reviews, interviews, pictorial blogs, and other articles related to this coverage, by clicking [here] - Also see the Bratislava pictorial blog by scrolling down to the bottom of this page.

    Orchestra of the Slovak National Theater
    Chorus of the Slovak National Theater

    Conductor - Dušan Štefánek
    Stage Director - Jozef Bednárik
    Sets - Vladimír Čáp
    Costumes - Ľudmila Várossová
    Choreography - Jaroslav Moravčík
    Chorus Master - Ladislav Kaprinay

    Cast

    Don Giovanni - Opera Lively interviewee Aleš Jenis
    Donna Anna - Ľubica Vargicová
    Don Ottavio - Martin Gyimesi
    Il Commendatore - Ján Galla
    Donna Elvira - Adriana Kohútková
    Leporello - Opera Lively interviewee Peter Kellner
    Masetto - Martin Mikuš
    Zerlina - Andrea Vizvári
    Butler - Miloslav Krajčík (silent role)

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    Production Pictures, not with the same cast:

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    Martin Gyimesi (Don Ottavio), Miloslav Krajčík (Butler), Linda Ballová (Donna Anna) - photo credit Alena Klenková, fair promotional use

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    A scene - photo credit Alena Klenková, fair promotional use

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    Jana Bernáthová (Zerlina) - photo credit Alena Klenková, fair promotional use

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    Adam Plachetka (Don Giovanni), Jana Bernáthová (Zerlina) - photo credit Alena Klenková, fair promotional use

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    A scene - photo credit Alena Klenková, fair promotional use

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    This picture taken by Opera Lively during the curtain calls at intermission, does have of course the current cast:

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    About the opera company:

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    The Opera of the Slovak National Theater is the first Slovak opera company, founded in 1920. It began its activity in the building of a former town opera house in Bratislava built in the second half of the 19th century according to the project of the famous Viennese architects Helmer and Fellner. Several important personalities have taken part in its direction, one of which was Oskar Nedbal, composer and conductor.

    The guests of the opera house during the inter-war period were a number of prominent artistic personalities such as Richard Strauss and Pietro Mascagni conducting their works, singers Fiodor Shalipin, Richard Tauber, Sándor Svéd, Ema Destin, and Zinka Milanov.

    After the Second World War, the theater takes on the first major national work, the Eugene Suchoňa Krútňava musical drama. On the stage of the Opera of the SND also premiered the great works of one of the leading European opera creators, Slovak composer Ján Cikker.

    The artistic ensemble had excellent performers in its ranks, especially in the seventies and eighties, and many have performed in major European opera houses. They include singers Peter Dvorský, Sergej Kopcak, Gabriela Beňacková, conductor Ondrej Lenárd, and later, tenors Miroslav Dvorský and Sergey Larin, baritone Dalibor Jenis, soprano Ľubica Vargicová, bass Peter Mikuláš, and others.

    The Opera of the SND is gradually drawing attention to itself in the broader European context, with its productions undertaking several important tours. Their success was celebrated in the Paris Opéra-Comique, at the world-famous Edinburgh festival, and on a tour in Japan.

    The Opera of the SND has a very close partnership with the Prague Opera House, with which it regularly performs mutual co-productions.

    After social changes in the wake of the Twilight Revolution, the borders have opened up, and elite domestic vocalists have begun to introduce themselves even more into Western opera houses, returning regularly to the home stage. Nowadays, it is mainly personalities such as Pavol Bršlík, Adriana Kučerová, Štefan Kocán, Jolana Fogašová, Aleš Jenis and others who represent Slovak vocal art in the world.

    The breakthrough year in the history of the SND Opera is the year 2007, when the new building of the SND opened on the Danube. The opera company now has two theaters with different size and dramaturgical focus. It is currently developing intensive international cooperation in the direction of diverse co-production projects and hospitality performances.

    In 2017, the company produced the international premiere of the forgotten Vivaldi's work, Arsilda, directed by David Radok, with the guest ensemble Collegium 1704 under the baton of Václav Luks.

    Peter Konwitschny regularly stages operas for the company; partners of current and upcoming projects are major European theaters and festivals such as the Flemish Opera in Antwerp and Gent, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Bregenzer Festspiele, and others.

    Opera SND is a repertoire theater, whose offer in the season consists of more than twenty different opera titles, as well as chamber and larger concert events. The program is also enriched by a festival of musical theater, which presents the opera together with a ballet ensemble every other year.

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    Review of the performance:

    I am pleasantly surprised with the high quality of the opera company of the Slovak National Theater. This was one of the best Don Giovannis I've ever seen. The production is 19 years old, and the beloved creator of it has been dead for the last two years, but it is very modern-looking. The pictures we included here don't do justice to the sets, which look a lot prettier in person, with the smoke and lighting special effects. It is very efficient in introducing multiple settings for the various scenes (through some doors opening and some rooms sliding out), and this curved street spacial configuration was also well exploited when they rolled in some carts and props, as if they were coming from a distance, beyond the curve. There is a silent butler figure that is a sinister-looking figure, like Death or the Grim Reaper. There are other modern touches, like a feminist approach to Zerlina, when she contemptuously throws away a whip Massetto was using to beat her.

    Theatrically speaking, everything went wonderfully, or at least I couldn't notice anything wrong - I was sitting together with the director of the company Slamovír Jakubek (his interview has been completed, and eventually will be transcribed and published), and he said that this production used to be given in their old historical theater, and now it is being done for the first time in the new building, so according to him some details weren't right. I'd say it's hard to improve. What I saw was already pretty darn excellent, and appeared rather well-oiled to me, in terms of blocking, lighting, etc. I'd give an A+ to all physical aspects of the show.

    The orchestra's sound was very pleasant. I wasn't as thrilled with the conductor. He both took the overture slowly, and rushed through some parts to the point that the singers were lagging behind. I thought he should have slowed down a little to match some of the singers who weren't as agile. In any case, things were lively enough. Grade A for orchestra, and B+ for conducting.

    The singers were a pleasure to hear, with some glitches. I found our Leporello to be the artist who stole the show. Peter Kellner is young (27) and has just joined the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper. We need to watch this singer closely; I'm betting that he will have a great career. His voice is excellent and very well projected, with excellent accuracy in his notes, and he acted the role very well too. He was one of the singers lagging behind the orchestra at times (nothing enormous) but I'm confident that his agility will develop more as his training also continues to evolve. I really loved his performance. A+

    I was also very impressed with Andrea Vizvári, an excellent Zerlina. She is very convincing in the skin of this sexy character, given how pretty she is, and how she acted the role in a very sensual way. Her voice is also divine, perfect for soubrette roles. I'd love to see her doing more. Flawless, A++

    Our Don Giovanni, Aleš Jenis, although good, was a bit miscast, with his voice appearing to be comfortable in a higher tessitura than we usually need for the Don; he seemed to struggle with a few low notes. He is also a good actor but overall was a notch below his younger companion. A.

    Our Donna Anna, Ľubica Vargicová, had a mixed evening. Apparently it's her first Donna Anna (although she has had many other good roles) and she was reportedly a bit nervous about it, and indeed didn't start very well, with some pitch control problems. She grew into the eveninhig as her voice warmed up, and had a poignant delivery of her more melancholic arias, but she was a bit less good than the three previous ones. A-.

    Adriana Kohútková as Donna Elvira was better: she has the required metallic ping for this frantic character, and her voice was powerful and well-modulated; A+.

    Our Don Ottavio was correct but without fireworks. He delivered well his two big arias (this production didn't not cut him down to one as we sometimes see), but wasn't particularly enticing. B+. Regarding the other smaller roles, Il Commendatore was also correct without anything too notable (B+), but our Massetto, Martin Mikuš, was not bad at all; a very capable singer (A+).

    Therefore, overall we enjoyed very good singing (with a glitch or two). In summary, this show receives a strong A+ grade from Opera Lively. I also found the director of the company and the artists, very friendly, showing good hospitality to this envoy.

    Bratislava is one hour by train from Vienna. A patron can do like me: hop on a train to Bratislava, watch the show and go back to Vienna on the last train at 11:15 PM. This is worth the trip, given that the company is good, the theater is beautiful, and the city seems very nice although I didn't have much time to explore. Another interesting aspect is that the audience seems to be significantly younger than at the Wiener Staatsoper (lots of beautiful people in the audience and on stage).

    I strongly encourage our readers who visit Vienna for opera, to look at what the SND is showing, and consider an evening trip to see one of their shows; if not, spending a day or two there getting to know another city and another country.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 30th, 2018 at 10:51 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. Thanks Clayton thanked for this post
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  3. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Pictorial blog for Bratislava, Slovakia

    Panoramic view of the city

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    Slovak National Theater - the historical building

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    Slovak National Theater - The new building (where this performance took place):

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    Other views of the city

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    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); February 28th, 2018 at 04:37 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  4. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Name:  csm_Bratislava%20Hlavne%20namestie%20den_01_f8d4587e0c.jpg
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    They call this structure the UFO - it's a revolving restaurant

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    The Blue Church

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    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  5. #4
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    This thread is now complete, it's been updated with the review of the show; scroll up and the review now occupies the second half of the first post.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. Likes Ann Lander (sospiro) liked this post
  7. #5
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    What a beautiful place. Stunning photos - did you take them? What camera have you got?
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

  8. #6
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Now we have another opera house and city where I would like to visit.

  9. Likes Ann Lander (sospiro) liked this post
  10. #7
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    What a beautiful place. Stunning photos - did you take them? What camera have you got?
    No, these are not mine. I took many pictures but I knew the trip would be extremely busy and I wouldn't have the time to choose the best ones, resize, and upload. So I did these in advance, just to illustrate the threads. I'll post my own pictures later. Well, many of mine are simply iPhone pics, but many others are being taken with a small but resourceful Panasonic camera (DMC-ZS3 Lumix) - it has a 12x optic zoom, 25mm wide angle, and many modes including HD movies. It's not a serious photographer camera; it's closer to a point-and-shoot than to a real camera, but I find that sometimes it performs very well. We can't see how well because in order to decrease a bit the loading times and the strain on the server I tend to reduce the pixels of all pictures to 1,200 x 900; but the full size ones are actually neat. I'm sure our true photographer friends will scream "heresy!!!!" But it serves me well in trips because it is small, fits into a pocket, and does take much better pictures than the iPhone.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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