Saturday, July 14, 2012

Oz Opera: Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni is one of those characters like Mack the Knife - removed from their original context they carry a certain romance and charm; only when you return to the original source do you realise what thoroughly nasty pieces of work they are. And so, Don Giovanni: in his own mind a loveable rogue, and to the rest of the world a murderer, serial rapist and sociopathic thug. I've forgotten who said of Monteverdi's "Nero & Poppaea" that it contained some of the most glorious music ever written about some of the most unpleasant people who ever lived, but it could equally well apply to Mozart's Don Giovanni. This is a beautifully realised little touring production, set stylishly in 1950's Italy, and astonishingly well-arranged for a nine-piece orchestra that manages to sound three times the size. Parts are shared around amongst the travelling cast, and I can't remember who played which, now, but both the Don and his servant Leporello are handsome and dashing, and sound wonderful. The women - the Don's assorted discards or new challenges - are clad La Dolce Vita style (Dona Elvira in particular sports a very glamorous red wrap dress and Sophia Loren sunnies) -and sound as good as they look. The set is clever - it can be resized depending on the size of the regional stage it's next moved to - and a slight rewrite of the ending dispenses neatly with the traditionalmtrapdoor denouement. The direction is also very effective at bringing the story plausibly forward a couple of hundred years. I enjoyed this a great deal, despite being absolutely dog tired than evening and not sure I'd see out the whole show. Of course the lure of the opening night champagne & canapes didn't hurt, but this wasn't a show that required any incentive to sit through.

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