Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra bring their stripped down version of Don Giovanni to Edinburgh. With almost no sets, the chorus dressed in minimalist classical style become a mobile set, surrounding and giving context to the singers. It works up to a point, but symbolism has its limits, and occasionally, as when the Commendatore dies, it is less than convincing.
However, the singers are, on the whole, very good. Outstanding is Christopher Maltman’s Don Giovanni, a role he has made his own in recent years. He is ably backed up by José Fardilha’s Leporello and Sylvia Schwartz’s Zerlina, and the rest of the cast are of a decent standard too. They are well supported on and off the stage by the musicians of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, under the experienced baton of Fischer.
This Festival has, with its nine operas, restored opera as a central part of the programme. Some of them are staged and others are in concert form (as was the triumphant performance of Die Walküre three days ago). This Don Giovanni falls between these two performance approaches, works to some extent, and in any case, the music of Mozart certainly survives the experience.