Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Wagner Tannhäuser : Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO. True, Opera North will bring its concert Ring to the South Bank, but that is a somewhat different matter. Comparisons with serious houses, let alone serious cities, are not encouraging, especially if one widens the comparison to nineteenth-century Italian composers. Quite why is anyone’s guess; the composer is anything but unpopular. More to the point, Wagner and Mozart should stand at the heart of any opera house’s repertory. They can hardly do so if they are so rarely performed.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

New from Opera Rara : Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe

Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara - Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

La Juive in Lyon

Though all big opera is called grand opera, French grand opera itself is a very specific genre. It is an ephemeral style not at all easy to bring to life. For example . . .

Benjamin, Dernière Nuit in Lyon

That’s Walter Benjamin of the Frankfort School [philosophers in the interwar period (WW’s I and II) who were at home neither with capitalism, fascism or communism].

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Sophie Bevan as Donna Elvira, Grant Doyle as Don Giovanni and Joshua Bloom as Leporello [ Photo by Mike Hoban courtesy of Garsington Opera at Wormsley]
09 Jun 2012

Don Giovanni, Garsington Opera at Wormsley

The pavilion at Garsington Opera at Wormsley is stunningly beautiful. Just being there is an experience, which is why the social aspect is so rewarding.

W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni: Grant Doyle; Leporello: Joshua Bloom; Donna Anna: Natasha Jouhl; The Commendatore: Christophoros Stamboglis; Don Ottavio: Jesus Leon; Donna Elvira: Sophie Bevan; Zerlina: Mary Bevan; Masetto: Callum Thorpe. Conductor: Douglas Boyd. Director: Daniel Slater. Designer: Leslie Travers. Lighting: Bruno Poet. Garsington Opera at Wormsley, 4th June 2012.

Above: Sophie Bevan as Donna Elvira, Grant Doyle as Don Giovanni and Joshua Bloom as Leporello

Photos by Mike Hoban courtesy of Garsington Opera at Wormsley

 

But regular patrons can do bland, corporate affairs any time. They come to Wormsley because they care about opera. This new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni has a lot to offer to those who pay attention.

The Wormsley Pavilion is a wonder of translucent glass and gleaming metal. It inspires the set design by Leslie Travers. Simple, clean cut lines, stylish elegance. If Don Giovanni were alive today, he’d live in designer surroundings like this. He fits life into compartments, which the “boxes” in this set reflect. But as we know, things go awry. Under this surface glamour lurks something very nasty. Don Giovanni (Grant Doyle) and Donna Anna (Natasha Jouhl) act out bondage games. Naturally, she doesn’t want her father to know. She cuts Don Giovanni from his handcuffs, and he stabs the Commendatore (Christophoros Stamboglis). It’s not a conventional reading but valid. Don Giovanni gets his kicks from seduction, not rape in the modern sense, and those around him are complicit. Besides, Donna Anna’s feelings are conflicted. Her Don Ottavio (Jesús León) is rather alluring and comes over as real match for her. When they masquerade, she wears dominatrix, he dresses as muzzled dog, which expresses much about their relationship.

Because Garsington Opera uses relatively young singers, the production is energetic. Boyle’s Don Giovanni is quick on his feet (as is the character). Joshua Bloom’s Leporello radiates physical presence. Interesting voice, with good colour and range — definitely a future Don Giovanni. When Bloom sings the catalogue aria, he snaps out statistics rapid fire. He prints off a spreadsheet, and reams of paper fill the stage. Donna Elvira (Sophie Bevan) is dumbstruck.

While Natasha Jouhl’s Donna Anna is svelte and sung with richly controlled poise, Bevan’s Donna Elvira is more earthy, even endearing. This brings out the social commentary in the opera. Donna Anna’s is more posh, but she is trapped by her rank in society. She has too much to lose. Donna Elvira on the other hand, seems to be able to roam freely in pursuit of Don Giovanni and declare her feelings openly. Zerlina (Mary Bevan) is “a bit of rough”. Her wedding dress is more showgirl than country virgin, because she has aspirations. Think footballer’s wives weddings. She wants more than the underclass which Masetto (Callum Thorpe) represents, but she puts up with his violence because she has no option. Or perhaps, like a dirtier version of Donna Anna, because something in her draws her to the dark side Don Giovanni offers. Massetto and the villagers sing and move well. You can sense that this lot could riot and wreck Don Giovanni’s spotless cocoon of a penthouse, of they had a chance.

DonGiovanni_Garsington2012_004.gifMary Bevan as Zerlina and Callum Thorpe as Masetto

But retribution strikes when the Stone Guest comes to dinner. A corpse resembling the Commendatore is wheeled in on a hospital table. This looks much more like a marble statue than some depictions, and close to text. The inscription is written on a tag. While Don Giovanni and Leporello examine the corpse, a voice booms out from high above the stage, as Stamboglis sings. They can’t see him, but we can. Wonderfully surreal. We don’t need to see Don Giovanni literally dragged down to hell. He drops dead and falls into the same wheelchair with which the Commendatore’s body was removed at the start of the opera. Perfect symmetry. More controversially, Donna Anna caresses Don Giovanni’s corpse. Her emotions are complex. This implies more than a simple happy ending. The Edition used in this production is Barenreiter-Kassel, edited by Wolfgang Plath and Wolfgang Rehm.

Anne Ozorio

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):