This is among the darker versions on DVD, both visually and emotionally. The stage, the costumes, and the direction are all modern, often original, and occasionally brilliant. The cover image captures the feel well: a cold, frenzied, cunning take. The protagonist (Christopher Maltman) is well acted and believable, but lacks a certain tantalizing sweetness. This is its flaw in my book. What you see is what you get with this one. But Don Giovanni is the most ambiguous and most mercurial of heroes and this is why he is so seductive. He can be all things to all people: to engage them emotionally and to forever create the illusion that there is more to him than his deeds. This Don is too intelligible for such a feat, too much like a nutcase next door. You would not call him an erotic genius, which is what Kierkegaard called Don Giovanni and rightly so. You would call him a lunatic. Leporello is an oddball too, but convincingly portrayed. The women are all headstrong and their men--Don Ottavio in particular--are empathetic rather than weak. The stage is consistently compelling: disorienting and desolate, yet also finely textured.
My favourite Don Giovanni is still the Harnoncourt version from Zurich with Rodney Gilfry as its magnetic center, but this one also holds its own dramatically. It presents a very different vision, but a valid and persuasive one. It grows on you--a dark performance, exquisitely crafted, for dark rooms.