After a mixed reception of Robert Carsen's new La Scala season-opening production of Don Giovanni, conducted by an unsteady Daniel Barenboim, the two collaborators are defending their art against Milanese detractors.
CarsenBoim took aim at the smattering of boos heard during the 10-minute final curtain call that followed Carsen's rewritten coup de théâtre Don Giovanni finale -- the remainder of the cast including Bryn Terfel, Peter Mattei and Anna Netrebko were roundly applauded.
Rome's daily La Repubblica went backstage on Sant'Ambrogio to gauge Barenboim's reaction, particularly regarding a brazen loggionisti who shouted "troppo lento" (too slow) when the new Music Director took the podium at the beginning of the second act. Barenboim said:
"These protests happen in Italy but also in Germany. I'm liberal and think that everyone has the right to express their own opinions. But don't come into the theater and scream. If you eat a bad meal at a restaurant, you don't go into the kitchen and scream at the chef because the food was bad: maybe just give a smaller tip and don't go back to that restaurant."
These sorts of provocations aren't worthy of acknowledging, said Barenboim, who hasn't been shy in he past when confronting his audiences. OC was at a concert in 2007 at La Scala where the pugnacious Barenboim had a Sergio Leone spaghetti western staredown with a camera-wielding ticket holder. He won, of course. Fastest gun in the West(ern Europe).
We were also at La Scala in February 2009 when Barenboim garnered his very first Il Piermarini booing, so his skin is thicker at this point. The gun-slinging conductor then spoke to La Repubblica ironically about the "troppo lento" heckler:
"If I had really wanted to, I would have told that gentlemen [in the loggione]: 'Well now you can get the heck outta here because the second act won't be any quicker.'"
Robert Carsen, the Canadian director who gave us the OJ verdict version of Don Giovanni, said that he didn't hear any booing for him at opening night. Haaaaa nice. He defended his Don, too:
"I wanted to reveal the personality of the libertine and show him like a mirror of what the other characters had within themselves, his pure energy of the good and the bad as being pulled by others."
Regardless of the booing, wieners for the h8rs. For La Scala, it's a success: opening night pulled in an 8% increase in profit (2,390,000 euro) from last year's frankly unmemorable Die Walkure (reports here and here and here). Next year opens with Wagner's Lohengrin stamped by Claus Guth with Anja Harteros, Rene Pape and Jonas Kaufmann.