Ildar Abdrazakov (Don Giovanni) and Soloman Howard (the Commendatore) in Don Giovanni, Washington National Opera, 2012 (photo by Scott Suchman)
Ildar Abdrazakov, who was Leporello to Erwin Schrott's sebaceous Don Giovanni in 2007, was here upgraded to the title role. He did not bring as much sex appeal to the infamous libertine, but he used his voice in a varied way -- power where he needed it, a seductive suavity in the serenade "Deh vieni alla finestra," and rapid-fire patter in perhaps the most breathless "Fin ch'han dal vino" to reach these ears. Baritone Andrew Foster-Williams was a hapless, cowardly Leporello, with excellent comic timing, pleasing resonance, but a tendency to be ahead of the beat. Barbara Frittoli was not quite spiteful enough in her tone for Donna Elvira (oh, for Anja Kampe who sang the role in 2007!), but she took Pascoe's ideas about the character -- as a sort of female version of Don Giovanni -- and ran with it. Soprano Meagan Miller, in a powerful company debut, gave plenty of punch to the role of Donna Anna, with pure, floating high notes that added an angelic aura, with only a slightly overactive vibrato and lack of dynamic variation to cause complaint. She absolutely towered -- physically and vocally -- over her Don Ottavio, sung capably but not quite elegantly by Juan Francisco Gatell, with a lovely, meditative "Dalla sua pace" and a slow, somewhat labored "Il mio tesoro." Veronica Cangemi, known for her performances in early music, was a fetching Zerlina, often light and transparent of tone but with sparkle, while Aleksey Bogdanov's Masetto was memorable more for his comic acting. Soloman Howard, an otherwise fine singer, was imposing physically as the Commendatore but struggled a bit at the top of the role.
Anne Midgette, Well-cast roles and creative ideas boost WNO’s ‘Don Giovanni’ (Washington Post, September 22)