John Stephenson OBE’s take on Mozart’s making of Don Giovanni is a romantic farrago of costumes and music in Interlude in Prague.
Soap Operaby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Interlude in Prague is at best a chance to hear some lovely music by Mozart but, for a film about the genesis of Don Giovanni, it could do with more of it.
Mozart did indeed visit Prague and write his opera there, but the happenings of Interlude in Prague are fictitious. In the film, he’s the guest of his understanding friend, singer Josefa (Samantha Barks), having temporarily left his wife behind after her miscarriage. Unlike the spoilt-child, scatological Mozart of Stoppard’s Amadeus, Aneurin Barnard‘s incarnation is cute, quixotic and irresistible to women, in particular to innocent soprano Zuzanna (Morfydd Clark). Unfortunately, she is the object of desire of sadistic sexual predator Baron Saloka (James Purefoy, as a kind of pantomime villain). Her social-climbing parents (a miscast Adrian Edmondson and Dervla Kirwan) are keen for what they see as an advantageous marriage, despite Zuzanna’s revulsion. It brings about confrontation between Saloka and Mozart, with the assistance of the Vatican, whose papal envoy (Nickolas Grace) describes Mozart as a “loathsome little peacock”. They’re out to ruin Mozart and destroy his character because of the rivalry over Zuzanna.
Along the way there’s a decadent masked ball, scenes of rehearsal at the opera house and attempts to parallel Mozart’s inspiration for the womanising Don Giovanni with the character of the lothario Saloka. Tragedy eventually ensues and there’s a coda of grief, recrimination, exoneration, a flash of what happened next and a flashback.
It’s a British/Czechoslovakian co-production, with Czech actors in some of the minor roles. The script is the brainchild of first-time screenwriter Brian Ashby. The staging, with set design by Katerina Koutská and cinematography by Mike Brewster are excellent. Costume design by Pam Downe is superb.
Interlude in Prague is released on 25 May 2971 in the UK.