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Abdrazakov Brothers Impress in Second Cast

Anja Kampe as Donna Elvira, Washington National Opera, 2007,
photo by Karin Cooper
The second cast for Washington National Opera’s Don Giovanni (see Charles's review of the first cast, as well as Master Ionarts' thoughts on the Family Look-In performance) offers audiences the unique chance to hear brothers Ildar Abdrazakov (Don Giovanni, after singing Leporello in the first cast) and Askar Abdrazakov (Leporello) in lead roles. Having both trained under the same teacher at the same Russian institute, the Abdrazakov brothers complemented one another musically and dramatically, particularly when Don Giovanni and Leporello exchanged costumes to further the Don's hedonistic schemes. In Tuesday's performance, the Abdrazakovs maintained a strong rapport with the orchestra, with the vocalist leading ever so slightly. It was not obvious that Ildar (Don Giovanni) is actually the younger brother of Askar (the servant Leporello).

Other Reviews:

Daniel Ginsberg, 'Don Giovanni' (Washington Post, November 10)
Donna Elvira (Anja Kampe) was most persuasive musically by making every note unique and highly resonant. Additionally, Kampe fully expressed Donna Elvira’s conflicted feelings toward the Don when singing, “he has cruelly betrayed me; he has made me suffer...yet my heart goes out to him.” Commendatore Morris Robinson truly frightened in the minor-keyed tumult in Act II stating to the Don: “Earthly food has no power to nourish; your time on earth is done.” (Robinson was recently heard with the NSO in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.) John Tessier, as Don Ottavio, displayed a smooth tenor instrument, at times outstanding and at others missing enough support for adequate legato. Israel Gursky’s objective conducting made coordination issues between singers and orchestra rare. Go, B team!

Only a few seats remain for the final performance of Don Giovanni tomorrow night (November 16, 7:30 pm), in the Kennedy Center Opera House.


Zain said...

Having seen the same performance, one thing I do have to note is that the supertitles were nothing short of atrocious. While I understand the desire to not project titles over repetitious parts, there were a good number of instances in which translations either too significant liberties, or were simply absent altogether.

Being very well versed in Don Giovanni, I was surprised that a lot of Leporello's funnier one-liners were actually simply never translated at all.

In general, I find that WNOs supertitles leave a lot to be desired, and am thankful to have a working knowledge of Italian in my toolkit to get me by. Too bad my companions (many of whom are experiencing opera for the first time) don't...

Evan Tucker said...

I only got to see the Young Artist (third) cast. It was unfortunate because while most of them were very promising, they uniformly had voices too small for the hall. In the case of Donna Anna, there's nothing else to recommend the character except a voice that will carry the audience. Certainly not a bad performance but not ready for primetime either. Maybe I'll write a review when I catch up in a hundred years.

Charles T. Downey said...

That was the cast I heard with my son at the Family Look-In, too, and I would generally agree with your thumbnail review.

Charles T. Downey said...

Zain, supertitles can make or break operas sometimes. If they are not timed correctly, they can ruin jokes. The worst is when a translation in the wrong tone causes an audience to laugh at inappropriate moments. It is something to which companies should pay careful attention, I agree.