Finnish conductor, composer, pianist and singer Ville Matvejeff leads the New Generation Opera and the Tapiola Sinfonietta in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Helsinki Festival. The title role will be sung by Waltteri Torikka.
Don Giovanni by the New Generation Opera, is a hybrid combining opera and cinema, offering a framework for an emerging generation of musicians to forge a new form of expression. In this very modern take of Mozart's classic, affluent young people party like there's no tomorrow and photograph and film themselves and each other while bashing. The live documentation of the events by the characters themselves diversifies the drama taking place on stage taking it to a whole new level. By combining cutting edge mobile technologies with cinematic narrative, The New Generation Opera are opening up the art-form also to the "MTV-generation" that finds opera often old-fashioned, dull and tedious.
"We want the opera to become more accessible to everybody and to communicate better as an art form under today's visual conditions", says Ville Matvejeff, who also is the founder and artistic director of New Generation Opera.
The drama finds itself tantalisingly placed in the middle ground between comedy and tragedy, burlesque and grotesque. It derives its power from a roll call of fresh young vocal talent and complex video projection. The production is a theatrical opera but also a live film projected simultaneously onto two screens.
Ville Matvejeff is one of the most interesting Finnish musical talents. He is the artistic director of Heinävesi Music Festival, and was recently appointed the Chief Conductor for Jyväskylä Sinfonia.
With English subtitles
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni, K.527 (1787)
Opera in two Acts
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Don Giovanni..........Waltteri Torikka, baritone
Leporello..........Tapani Plathan, bass
Donna Anna..........Ida Falk Winland, soprano
Donna Elvira..........Anna Danik, soprano
Don Ottavio..........Joska Lehtinen, tenor
Il Commendatore..........Timo Riihonen, bass
Zerlina..........Malin Christensson, soprano
Masetto..........Nicholas Söderlund, bass
New Generation Opera Ensemble
Conductor & harpsichord: Ville Matvejeff
Choirmaster and Assistant conductor: Jonas Rannila
Director: Erik Söderblom
Film director: Janne Suutarinen
Assistant director: Mirva Koivukangas
Scenography: Markku Kunnari
Costumes: Sari Salmela
Assistant to the director: Laura Åkerlund
Film production: Arcada
Alexander Theatre, Helsinki Festival, August 22, 2013
While in Prague from January to February 1787, attending and conducting performances of his most recently completed opera Le nozze di Figaro and concerts of several of his instrumental works, Mozart received a commission from Prague impresario Pasquale Bondini for a new opera, which was to be produced in Prague during October 1787. Mozart returned to Vienna and asked Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist for Figaro, for another opera libretto. Don Giovanni became the second of three opere buffe Mozart would compose to a libretto by Da Ponte, the third of which, Così fan tutte, Mozart would complete in early 1790. Da Ponte's libretto shows the influence of Bertati's libretto for Gazzaniga's opera Convitato di pietra. The premiere of Don Giovanni took place to great public and critical acclaim in Prague on October 29, 1787. The Prague reception of Don Giovanni was more positive than that of the opera's first Vienna performances in 1788, for which reviews suggested mild dissatisfaction with the work's extended length and unnecessary plot elaborations.
Mozart creates levels of dramatic expression through recitativo secco, recitative accompagnato, and aria styles. Through recitativo secco, Mozart reveals large amounts of plot information with utmost musical economy. Recitativo accompagnato is reserved for moments of great emotion, in which the accompanying orchestra virtually assumes a dramatic role. In Act Two, Scene Ten (d), the orchestra virtually speaks for the conflicted Donna Elvira, emphatic dotted rhythms in the orchestra conveying her rage and slurred couplets giving musical voice to her sighs. The dramatically stagnant da capo aria that was the mainstay of the operas of George Friedrich Handel is virtually absent from Don Giovanni. Leporello's so-called "catalog aria" ("Madamina, il catalogo è questo") in Act One, Scene Five, for example, suggests both through-composed and bi-partite formal elements. Some arias in Don Giovanni, however, such as Don Ottavio's Act One, Scene Fourteen aria ("Dalla sue pace"), contain traces of the ternary form idea of returning to beginning material after a section of contrasting music. Donna Elvira's aria in Act Two, Scene Ten ("Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata") juxtaposes ternary and rondo form ideas, reinforcing through musical form Donna Elvira's returning to the same position of pity and longing for Don Giovanni. In keeping with the function of the opera overture to introduce the opera's important themes, the music that begins the overture, marked by alternations between the D minor tonic and its dominant, returns in the Commendatore's scene in Act Two, Scene Fifteen. The drama of this scene is set in relief by the light use popular music in the preceding party scene, where the on-stage musicians play melodies from arias by Martín y Soler, Sarti, and even Mozart's own Le nozze di Figaro during Don Giovanni's party. Don Giovanni's canzonetta ("Deh, vieni alla fenestra, o mio tesoro") in Act Two, Scene Three, an airy strophic song scored for pizzicato strings and mandolin, is a similarly witty musical juxtaposition of planes of realism.
Source: Jennifer Hambrick (allmusic.com)
Late one evening outside of Commendatore's (an old nobleman) palace, Leporello (Don Giovanni's servant) is keeping watch as Don Giovanni tries to seduce Commendatore's daughter, Donna Anna.
The masked Don Giovanni fools Donna Anna initially as she thinks he is her betrothed, Don Ottavio. When she realizes that it may not be him, she demands he remove his mask and screams for help. Commendatore rushes to her aid. As the two men fight, Donna Anna disappears to call for Don Ottavio. When they return, they discover Commendatore has been killed. They swear vengeance to the masked intruder.
The following morning, Don Giovanni and Leporello are outside of a tavern in a busy town square when Don Giovanni hears a woman singing about her lover abandoning her. Her distress is music to Don Giovanni's ears; he slithers over to her in order to seduce her. Before setting his eyes upon her, he quickly starts flirting. When his eyes catch up to his mouth, he realizes she is Donna Elvira – one of his many past conquests. Donna Elvira has been on the hunt for him. He pushes Leporello in front of her and demands him to divulge the truth of his many lovers before fleeing.
Leporello tells her she is just one of many hundreds of girls within Don Giovanni's catalog of women. Donna Elvira storms away infuriated.
A little while later, a wedding party arrives celebrating the marriage of Zerlina and Masetto, both peasants. It isn't long before Don Giovanni takes notice of Zerlina and sets his sights on her.
He tries to persuade Masetto to let him host a wedding party for them at his castle, but Masetto quickly realizes his dishonest intentions. Don Giovanni is just trying to get Zerlina alone with him. Masetto gets angry, but Leporello is able to remove him from the scene. Now alone with Zerlina, Don Giovanni starts working his charm and the two begin singing the duet "La ci darem la mano". Donna Elvira cuts in and snatches Zerlina away from him. Donna Anna and Don Ottavio arrive in mourning of her father's death. Still plotting their revenge, they ask Don Giovanni for help. He readily agrees. Donna Elvira cuts in and tells them that he cannot be trusted as he is a womanizer. When Don Giovanni shouts that Donna Elvira is just a mad woman, Donna Anna recognizes his voice as the masked perpetrator.
In Don Giovanni's castle, the wedding celebration for Zerlina and Masetto is underway. Don Giovanni, full of confidence, tells Leporello to invite as many girls as he can find. Meanwhile, Zerlina and Masetto are walking to the castle. Still angry, Zerlina tries to reason with him that she has remained faithful. When they hear Don Giovanni approaching, Masetto quickly hides. He wants to see how Zerlina will act around Don Giovanni in order to prove herself.
Don Giovanni starts to charm her but realizes that Masetto is spying on them. Smartly, he calls out Masetto and scolds him for leaving the poor Zerlina alone. He hands her back to Masetto and they proceed inside the castle. Not long after, three masked guests arrive, having been invited by Leporello. The three guests are Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, and Donna Elvira. They pray for their protection and vengeance before entering the ballroom with everyone else.
During the activities and extravagances, Leporello distracts Masetto as Don Giovanni takes Zerlina into another room where they can be alone. Zerlina screams, but Don Giovanni is able to drag Leporello into the room. When everyone arrives, Don Giovanni places the blame on Leporello. The three remove their masks and proclaim Don Giovanni's guilt.
When Don Ottavio approaches him with a sword, Don Giovanni narrowly manages to escape.
Underneath a balcony at Donna Elvira's house, Don Giovanni has concocted a plan to seduce Elvira's house maid. He switches clothes with Leporello and hides in the bushes. While hiding, he sings a song of repentance as Leporello stands below the balcony. Donna Elvira accepts his apology and greets Leporello outside. Still, in costume, he leads
Donna Elvira away. Don Giovanni emerges from hiding and starts singing a song to the maid. Midway through his song, Don Ottavio, and a few friends arrive looking for Don Giovanni. Dressed as Leporello, he convinces them he also hates Don Giovanni and will join them in their hunt to kill him. He manages to send Don Ottavio's friends away and beats Ottavio with his own weapons. Don Giovanni laughs as he leaves the scene. Donna Anna arrives shortly after and consoles her fiancé.
Leporello abandons Donna Elvira in a darkened courtyard. Having difficulty finding a door in which to escape, Donna Anna and Don Ottavio arrive. Leporello finally finds his exit, but only as Zerlina and Masetto enter through it. Upon seeing the disguised servant, they capture him. It isn't long before Anna and Ottavio catch on to what is happening. As they threaten to kill him, Elvira pleads for their mercy as she claims he is her reconciled husband. Scared for his life, Leporello removes his cloak and hat to reveal his true identity. He begs for forgiveness before seizing his opportunity to escape.
Leporello meets Don Giovanni in the graveyard next to Commendatore's statue and tells Giovanni of the dangers he encountered. Don Giovanni brushes them off and tells Leporello that he tried to seduce one of Leporello's past girlfriends. Leporello is not amused, but Don Giovanni laughs heartily. All of a sudden, the statue begins to speak. He warns Don Giovanni that he won't be laughing anymore after the morning's sunrise. Don Giovanni invites the statue to dinner, and to his surprise, the statue accepts.
Inside Donna Anna's room, Ottavio is asking for marriage. Anna refuses to marry until her father's death is avenged.
Back in Don Giovanni's dining room, he is enjoying an extravagant meal fit for a king. Donna Elvira arrives to tell him that she is no longer mad at him. Curious, he asks her why. It is because she now only feels pity for him. She asks him to change his lifestyle, but he refuses, claiming that wine and women are the essences of humankind. Angrily, she leaves. Moments later, she screams and rushes back through the dining room before disappearing into another room. Don Giovanni demands Leporello to figure out what has frightened her. Moments later, Leporello screams and runs back to the dining room. Diving under the dining room table, he tells Don Giovanni that the statue has arrived for dinner. Don Giovanni greets the statue at the door. The statue asks Don Giovanni to repent for his sins, but Don Giovanni refuses. Then, with a great flash, the earth opens up beneath their feet and the statue pulls Don Giovanni with him to hell.
Don Ottavio, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Masetto, and Zerlina return to the dining room to tell the moral of the story.
Source: Aaron Green, 2017 (thoughtco.com)
Baritone Waltteri Torikka was born in Finland in 1984. He won the 1st male prize in the Lappeenranta National Singing Competition in 2010 and was awarded "the HSBC laureates 2009-prize" at the prestigious Vocal Academy of "Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence".
This young baritone started his studies at Sibelius Academy in 2004 as a church musician, ending up taking his Master's degree from the Opera department in 2012. During the year 2008 he studied in Germany as Erasmus student at the Karlsruhe Hochschule für Musik.
Torikka made his debut at the Finnish National Opera in 2009 as Herastuomari in Madetoja's "Ostrobothnians". Other roles performed in Finland include Motel Kamzoil in "Fiddle of the roof" at Opera Verso, Il Re in Handel's "Ariodante", Vater in "Hansel und Gretel", Vorotov in "Kohtalokkaat Oppitunnit" by Ville Raasakka (world premiere) and Masetto in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" at Sibelius Academy Opera to mention a few.
In Copenhagen, at the Royal Danish Opera Academy, he studied between 2009-2012 under guidance of Susanna Eken, Kirsten Buhl Møller, Christen Stubbe Teglbjaerg and Fiona McSherry. While a student he sung Schaunard in "La Bohème" and Journalist in "Lulu" at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in season 2010-2011. In an academy production of "Don Giovanni" in the spring 2012 he portrayed the title role with great acclaim. The same spring his exam production was the title role of "Eugene Onegin".
Waltteri Torikka has performed with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Camerata Salzburg and worked with conductors such as Mikko Franck, Louis Langrée and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He has attended masterclasses and received private tuition from singing teachers and vocal coaches such as Julia Varady, Karita Mattila, Jeffrey Goldberg, Dale Fundling, Elisabeth Werres, Helmut Deutsch, Mikael Eliasen and Udo Reinemann.
Recently Torikka performed Melot in Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" at Helsinki Festival 2012 (Esa-Pekka Salonen / Peter Sellars production) and Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. For the 2012-2013 season he is appointed as an Apprentice Artist for the Finnish National Opera and there he will appear as Silvio (Pagliacci), Belcore (Elisir d'amore), Robin Hood (Robin Hood by Jukka Linkola) and Papageno (Zauberflöte) among others.
Upcoming engagements includes for instance "Don Giovanni" in Mozart's Don Giovanni in Helsinki Festival 2013 and "Figaro" in Le Nozze di Figaro in Turku, Finland.
|Photo by Sasa Tkalcan|
Between 1988 and 1990 Söderblom was director of Turku City Theatre. In 1990 he – together with a group of young actors, directors, writers and set designers of his generation – started up the Q-teatteri in Helsinki. With this ensemble he made an acknowledged series of directions of both newly written Finnish texts and classical texts such as Feodor Dostoevsk's "Writings from the cellar", Williams Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and "Twelfth Night" and Leo Tolstoi's "War and Peace". All these productions have been shown on festivals in Finland and abroad. Today Q-teatteri is recognized as one of the artistically leading ensembles in Finland.
Söderblom was chairman of the board and artistic leader of Q-teatteri between 1996-2002. On his initiative Q-teatteri founded the Baltic Circle, a network for free theatre groups around the Baltic Sea. Q-teatteri also hosts the important international Baltic Circle theatre festival. Söderblom was the first artistic leader of this festival.
Alongside with his work with Q-teatteri, Söderblom has directed in theatres around Finland and abroad. The best known of his international work is the prize-winning staging of Jouko Turkka's play "Connecting People" in Von Krahli-theater in Tallinn.
In recent years he has returned to opera and is considered to be a leading Finnish opera director. He has directed performances such as the prize-winning productions of Mozart's "Entführung aus dem Serail" and "Le Nozze di Figaro" at Pori Opera and the huge outdoor performance of Wagner's "Der fliegende Holländer" in Turku.
Söderblom has been praised for his directions of contemporary opera. As a trained musician he has the ability to read also intricate new music scores and has directed the world premieres of several Finnish operas such as Tapio Tuomela's "Mothers and Daughters", Lars Karlsson's "Rödhamn" and Mikko Heiniö's "The Hour of the Serpent", all at the Finnish National Opera and Veli-Matti Puumala's "Anna Liisa" during the Helsinki Festival 2008. For the Turku 2011 - European Capital of Culture, Söderblom directed yet another big scale opera production, the world premiere of "Erik XIV" by the composer Mikko Heiniö and dramatist Juha Siltanen.
The series of Söderblom's productions of Mozart's operas continued during Helsinki Festival 2013 with "Don Giovanni". In the same year Söderblom also staged J.S Bach's "St John's Passion" with Helsinki Baroque Orchestra. For Helsinki Festival he staged a semi-concertante performance of the long forgotten opera parody "Orango" by Dmitri Shostakovitsh. In August 2015 he presented as his artistic farewell production as director for Helsinki Festival a widely praised semi-staged performance of Alban Berg's opera "Wozzeck".
Söderblom was CEO and the Artistic Director of Helsinki Festival from 2009 up to August 2015. During his leadership the festival developed to become not only one of the most outstanding festivals of Europe, but with its 300.000 annual visitors also the biggest art festival in the Nordic countries.
Erik Söderblom's role in Finnish theatre as an important pedagogue is worth mentioning. In the years 1998-2002 Söderblom was leading a famous music theatre class at Turku Polytechnic. From 2001 to 2009 he was a Professor of Acting at the Helsinki Theatre Academy. During the years 2005-2009 he also worked as vice rector for this university.
In 2016 Söderblom was invited to become a member of the Artistic Committee at Tampere Theatre Festival, the most prominent performing arts festival in Finland.
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