Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

La Périchole in Marseille

The most notable of all Péricholes of Offenbach’s sentimental operetta is surely the legendary Hortense Schneider who created the role back in 1868 at Paris’ Théâtre des Varietés. Alas there is no digital record.

Three Centuries Collide: Widmann, Ravel and Beethoven

It’s very rare that you go to a concert and your expectation of it is completely turned on its head. This was one of those. Three works, each composed exactly a century apart, beginning and ending with performances of such clarity and brilliance.

Seventeenth-century rhetoric from The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

‘Yes, in my opinion no rhetoric more persuadeth or hath greater power over the mind; hath not Musicke her figures, the same which Rhetorique? What is a but her Antistrophe? her reports, but sweet Anaphora's? her counterchange of points, Antimetabole's? her passionate Aires but Prosopopoea's? with infinite other of the same nature.’

Hrůša’s Mahler: A Resurrection from the Golden Age

Jakub Hrůša has an unusual gift for a conductor and that is to make the mightiest symphony sound uncommonly intimate. There were many moments during this performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony where he grappled with its monumental scale while reducing sections of it to chamber music; times when the power of his vision might crack the heavens apart and times when a velvet glove imposed the solitude of prayer.

Full-Throated Troubador Serenades San José

Verdi’s sublimely memorable melodies inform and redeem his setting of the dramatically muddled Il Trovatore, the most challenging piece to stage of his middle-period successes.

Opera North deliver a chilling Turn of the Screw

Storm Dennis posed no disruption to this revival of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, first unveiled at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2010, but there was plenty of emotional turbulence.

Luisa Miller at English National Opera

Verdi's Luisa Miller occupies an important position in the composer's operatic output. Written for Naples in 1849, the work's genesis was complex owing to problems with the theatre and the Neapolitan censors.

Eugène Onéguine in Marseille

A splendid 1997 provincial production of Tchaikovsky’s take on Pushkin’s Bryonic hero found its way onto a major Provençal stage just now. The historic Opéra Municipal de Marseille possesses a remarkable acoustic that allowed the Pushkin verses to flow magically through Tchaikovsky’s ebullient score.

Opera Undone: Tosca and La bohème

If opera can sometimes seem unyieldingly conservative, even reactionary, it made quite the change to spend an evening hearing and seeing something which was so radically done.

A refined Acis and Galatea at Cadogan Hall

The first performance of Handel's two-act Acis and Galatea - variously described as a masque, serenata, pastoral or ‘little opera’ - took place in the summer of 1718 at Cannons, the elegant residence of James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos.

Lise Davidsen: A superlative journey through the art of song

Are critics capable of humility? The answer should always be yes, yet I’m often surprised how rare it seems to be. It took the film critic of The Sunday Times, Dilys Powell, several decades to admit she had been wrong about Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, a film excoriated on its release in 1960. It’s taken me considerably less time - and largely because of this astounding recital - to realise I was very wrong about Lise Davidsen.

Parsifal in Toulouse

Aurélien Bory, director of a small, avant garde theater company in Toulouse, staged a spellbinding Parsifal at the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse’s famed Orchestre National du Capitole in the pit — FYI the Capitole is Toulouse’s city hall, the opera house is a part of it.

An Evening with Rosina Storchio: Ermonela Jaho at Wigmore Hall

‘The world’s most acclaimed Soprano’: the programme booklet produced for Ermonela Jaho’s Wigmore Hall debut was keen to emphasise the Albanian soprano’s prestigious status, as judged by The Economist, and it was standing-room only at the Hall which was full to capacity with Jaho’s fervent fans and opera-lovers.

Parsifal in Palermo

Richard Wagner chose to finish his Good Friday opera while residing in Sicily’s Palermo, partaking of the natural splendors of its famed verdant basin, the Conca d’Oro, and reveling in the golden light of its surreal Monreale cathedral.

Vladimir Jurowski conducts a magnificent Siegfried

“Siegfried is the Man of the Future, the man we wish, the man we will, but cannot make, and the man who must create himself through our annihilation.” This was Richard Wagner, writing in 1854, his thoughts on Siegfried. The hero of Wagner’s Siegfried, however, has quite some journey to travel before he gets to the vision the composer described in that letter to August Roeckel. Watching Torsten Kerl’s Siegfried in this - largely magnificent - concert performance one really wondered how tortuous a journey this would be.

I Capuleti e i Montecchi in Rome

Shakespearean sentiments may gracefully enrich Gounod’s Romeo et Juliet, but powerful Baroque tensions enthrall us in the bel canto complexities of Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Conductor Daniele Gatti’s offered a truly fine bel canto evening at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera introducing a trio of fine young artists.

Santtu-Matias Rouvali makes versatile debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali has been making waves internationally for some time. The chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra is set to take over from Esa-Pekka Salonen as principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2021.

Tristan und Isolde in Bologna

East German stage director Ralf Pleger promised us a Tristan unlike anything we had ever seen. It was indeed. And Slovakian conductor Jura Valčuha gave us a Tristan as never before heard. All of this just now in the most Wagnerian of all Italian cities — Bologna!


Seductively morbid – The Fall of the House of Usher in The Hague

What does it feel like to be depressed? “It’s like water seeping into my heart” is how one young sufferer put it.

Daring Pairing Doubles the Fun by Pacific Opera Project

Puccini’s only comedy, the one act Gianni Schicchi is most often programmed with a second short piece of tragic fare, but the adventurous Pacific Opera Project has banked on a fanciful Ravel opus to sustain the mood and send the audience home with tickled ribs and gladdened hearts.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Asraf Sewailam as Leporello and Myrtò Papatanasiu as Donna Elvira [Photo by Cory Weaver]
24 Feb 2015

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Asraf Sewailam as Leporello and Myrtò Papatanasiu as Donna Elvira

Photos by Cory Weaver

 

Muni designed the simple sets, directed the concentrated action and translated da Ponte’s text into interesting supertitles. In this production, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s Don was a bon vivant as well as a womanizer who sang with consistently satisfying resonant, polished tones.

Lorenzo da Ponte wrote the libretto for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, basing his text on various legends about the famous Spanish seducer. Evidence suggests that the first fully dramatized version of the story was by a monk, Tirso de Molina (1579-1648), who published El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (‘The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest’) in 1630. Readers may remember that da Ponte was once ordained as a priest. De Molina’s Don goes to Hell as does the title character of José Espronceda's 1840 poem El estudiante de Salamanca (‘The Student of Salamanca’), but some versions of the legend end differently. The protagonist in José Zorrilla's 1844 play Don Juan Tenorio, receives a divine pardon.

_b5a0 c weaver  sdo 802.pngIldebrando D’Arcangelo as Don Giovanni and Myrtò Papatanasiu as Donna Elvira

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera. Muni designed the simple sets, directed the concentrated action and translated da Ponte’s text into interesting supertitles. In this production, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s Don was a bon vivant as well as a womanizer who sang with consistently satisfying resonant, polished tones. A congenial Don, many in the audience would have preferred to sit down and have a beer with him rather than see him dragged off to eternal damnation.

In this opera many of the characters are conflicted. Often, they sing one idea while their music plays another. That gives the artist a great deal of room for characterization and many of them made fine portrayals. Especially believable was the Leporello of Ashraf Sewailam. Not only did he sing well, he never stopped moving. While his Catalog Aria thoroughly offended Donna Elvira, it fascinated the audience who gave it a well-deserved hand of applause. What is most amazing is that Sewailam was a last minute substitute. He is a most valuable artist indeed.

We will never know whether Donna Anna wanted to get away from the Don as she says, or if she secretly wanted to enjoy his advances as her music suggests. Ellie Dehn registered a wide range of emotional shifts with great delicacy while singing with glinting sonorities. As her fiancé Don Ottavio, Paul Appleby sang with radiant tones spun out in a stunningly beautiful legato. He is definitely a young singer to watch.

Myrtò Papatanasiu was a feisty Donna Elvira who thought she could change the Don’s ways. Like many women before and since, she found it could not be done, but she learned her lesson while singing with honeyed tones. Emily Fons and Kristopher Irmiter were most believable as Zerlina and her bridegroom, Masetto. Fons, who was a member of the young artist program at the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 2010 to 2012, seems to be at the onset of a most impressive career. Her singing was an iridescent wave of vocal color as she captured her character’s delicious moments of indecision. Kristopher Irmiter was a bold peasant who had to deal with the fact that a nobleman like the Don could kill him with impunity. Bass Reinhard Hagen sang the Commendatore’s low notes with thrust as he energized their text with conviction.

Chorus Master Charles Prestinari’s chorus sang in subtle harmonies and imbued the text with nuanced emotions. Dorothy Randall's alert and stylish playing made the recitatives a joy to hear. Although conductor Daniele Callegari seemed to have a rather loose concept of the architecture of the opera, he held stage and pit together while allowing the singers enough room to breathe and emote. The resurrected San Diego Opera certainly put together a hit with this performance of the Mozart masterwork.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Leporello, Ashraf Sewailam; Don Giovanni, IldebrandoD’Arcangelo; Donna Anna, Ellie Dehn; Commendatore, Reinhard Hagen; Don Ottavio, Paul Appleby; Donna Elvira, Myrtò Papatanasiu; Zerlina, Emily Fons; Masetto, Kristopher Irmiter; Conductor, Daniele Callegari; Director, Set Designer, Paul Muni; Costume Designer, David Burdick; Lighting Designer, Thomas C. Hase; Chorus Master, Charles Prestinari.

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):