Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Monday 23 May 2011
Jonathan Kent sees the prime challenge of ‘Don Giovanni’ as being to find a way to ‘give its hero a life’, since his mix of charm and demonic psychopathy is entirely unexplained: he wants it to be clear that this is the first time the Don has killed, and that it’s murder rather than libertinage which sends him to hell. Kent’s thesis worked well when the show was unveiled last year, thanks to Gerald Finley’s charisma in the role, but the production was in some ways problematic.
Kent and his designer Paul Brown had opted for a monochrome look redolent of the films of Antonioni, and the grey cube which dominated the stage – constantly rotating and opening like a box of tricks – imparted a pleasing sense of mystery. But their ‘graveyard’ was a cumbersome hydraulic contraption, and their solution for the climactic appearance of the Commendatore – who materialised from under the Don’s table like a half-decomposed corpse – evoked disgust rather than the requisite shock and awe. The show was streamlined for the autumn tour: would that streamlining be retained for this summer season?
Alas, no. On the other hand, while Finley is triumphing as Hans Sachs in David McVicar’s Glyndebourne ‘Meistersinger’, Lucas Meacham – who has been drafted in to replace him – brings a suave, Mastroianni-style persuasiveness to the character of the Don; Matthew Rose, as the Don’s sidekick Leporello, infuses that picaresque figure with an unaccustomed gravitas, thus showing him in an interesting new light.
In fact this revival is more strongly cast than the original was. Albina Shagimuratova sings the bereaved Donna Anna with a pure-toned expressiveness which Toby Spence’s Don Ottavio matches gracefully; Mia Persson’s incarnation of the emotionally-deranged Donna Elvira is subtly characterised and exquisitely sung; this vengeful trio sing together to majestic effect.
The most striking difference between this (Vienna) version of the opera and the more usually performed (Prague) version lies in the ‘Shaving Duet’ where Zerlina plays sadistic games with a razor over the trussed-up Leporello. Her aria may not be Mozart’s most inspired, but as the sexually-provocative Marita Solberg delivers it, the danger is palpable. In-Sung Sim’s incarnation of the Commendatore is splendidly heroic, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Robin Ticciati generates all the right frissons from the pit. Hydraulics apart, a brilliant evening.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Historian: ‘Disney was right to show King John as a villain' in Robin Hood
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut