For his production of “ Don Giovanni“ at the Vienna International Festival (Wiener Festwochen), Roberto de Simone does not want to follow in the footsteps of other directors who modernise the design and add something that did not exist in Mozart’s original. He sends Don Giovanni on a journey through time to revisit the centuries that the character lived through starting with the original costume of the 16th century and ending in the 19th century. Don Giovanni changes garments but is still the same legend and archetype. Something similar can be said for his accompanying antagonist, Donna Elvira. De Simone succeeds in sticking to the flow of the plot and to the music, in which the soloists and Riccardo Muti’s state opera orchestra have a crucial part. Muti spiritedly conducts with a sense for style and gives the singers room to shine. In the baroque ambiance of the theatre on the river Wien, we experience a “Don Giovanni“ in a unique unity of theatrical pretence and top-rate musical performance.
Willie Nelson never has been known for his consistency, either in style or quality, yet his stint at Lost Highway Records may be his most schizophrenic collection of recordings ever. Signed to the alt country label at the turn of the decade, Nelson proceeded to cut a muddled mainstream crossover, pitched himself at Lost Highway's typical Americana audience with an album produced by Ryan Adams, pander to his forgotten mainstream country audience with an album produced by Kenny Chesney, salute the stoners with a reggae album, and tip his hat to the main lady of Western swing with a tremendous tribute album to songwriter Cindy Walker.
Catharism was the name given to a Christian religious sect that appeared in the Languedoc region of what is now southern France and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Cathars saw matter as intrinsically evil. They denied that Jesus could become incarnate and still be the son of God and thus, the Catholic Church regarded the sect as dangerously heretical. Faced with what they saw as a rapidly spreading cancer, the Church called for a crusade, which was carried out by knights from Northern France and Germany and was known as the Albigensian Crusade. This campaign, and the inquisition that followed it, eradicated the Cathars completely. It also had the effect of weakening the semi- independent southern principalities in the area, ultimately bringing them under direct control of the King of France.