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Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Giovanni Shuffle

Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien ready to tackle Mozart opera.
Back to work: Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni.
Photo by Nick Heavican © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
Mariusz Kwiecien is coming back to the Metropolitan Opera.

The Polish baritone, who suffered a herniated disc in an Oct. 10 dress rehearsal of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Don Giovanni, has been cleared to make his debut as the libertine Spanish nobleman on Oct. 25.

Mr. Kwiecien was taken to the hospital on a back board, and underwent surgery earlier this week. He was heard to be in good spirits as he was being lifted off the stage, predicting that he would see the cast "next Thursday." Recovery for this kind of operation can take from two to four weeks.

However, the Oct. 13 season premiere featured Swedish baritone Peter Mattei in the title role of Mozart's opera. Mr. Mattei was under contract to sing Figaro in the Met's current revival of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He switched roles at the urging of Met management.

According to a report by Daniel Wakin in the New York Times Mr. Kwiecien has been cleared by his doctors to do all the physical activity required in this new staging, with the exception of a climb down a ladder in the opening scene. This includes the mandolin playing, sword-fighting, and the occasional attempted sexual assault.

The prognosis means that Mr. Kwiecien will be able to sing the role in the performance on Oct. 29, which will be broadcast live in movie theaters around the globe as part of the Met's Live in HD series. It is standard practice for the company to film the performance before the broadcast as "backup", so expect to see cameras in the house on Oct. 25.

The new production of Don Giovanni is by Tony-winning director Michael Grandage. It opened on Oct. 13. You can read a live blog of the opening night here. Mr. Mattei will be singing on Monday night. That performance will be reviewed on Superconductor next week.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats