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Movie Review: 'Mozart: Le Nozze Di Fiagaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte'

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Is he a genius or simply a brat? Judge for yourself, as director-provocateur Peter Sellars presents Mozart, modern-dress reinventions of classic Mozart operas, in which (just for example) the title character of Don Giovanni acquires a drug habit and commits his legendary crimes of sex and violence in the troubled South Bronx. Not only hard-core Mozart fans will be amazed. A friend walked in during Le Nozze di Figaro — in Sellars’ version, the story of an international playboy outwitted by his servants in a high-rise penthouse — and said, in all seriousness: ”I thought you were watching a sitcom with the sound off and opera playing in the background.” But, as I realized with a jolt, much of Figaro really is a sitcom; anyone as insatiable as Don Giovanni really would shoot heroin. No wonder the singers deliver what must be the edgiest, most intense operatic acting ever filmed. Sellars makes these works inhabit the same troubled world we do.