Don Giovanni, Mozart, Opera North, Grand Theatre, Leeds
Friday 19 October 2012
Despite its origins in Spanish legend, Spain is not important to Mozart’s and da Ponte’s Don Giovanni. So the placing of the story in the context of the early 1960s in Alessandro Talevi’s new production for Opera North is non-controversial.
Spain doesn’t matter, but class does. As in Figaro, the sexual arrogance of the upper-class male is challenged from below, by Masetto and his friends, albeit unsuccessfully. But Don Giovanni is a more old-fashioned opera than the superbly realistic Figaro. Giovanni evades every human challenge, and it takes supernatural intervention to punish him as he deserves.
Talevia slips up in Act Two by apparently endowing Giovanni with magical powers, opening and closing doors with a want, turning Masetto and his friends into snuffling pigs. But it is the dead Commendatore who has those powers, and although Giovanni’s last supper is very effectively staged, it is nearly undercut by what has gone before.
Giovanni and his associates are presented as members of a decayed, semi-criminal upper class. Guns are much in evidence. Masetto and his friends are Mods, sporting lofty quiffs and velvet collars. The party at the end of Act One is appropriately sleazy, with Zerlina coupling with Masetto even as she sings her consoling aria, Batti, batti.
Singing and acting are strong and detailed throughout. William Dazeley is an unflagging, rather charmless Don. Meeta Raval as Anna and Elizabeth Atherton as Elvira give powerful performances, while Christopher Turner as Ottavio is clearly a genuine operatic tenor. Tobias Ringborg gets intense playing from his orchestra.
The two outstanding performances come from Claire Wild as a very positive, clear-eyes Zerlina, and from Alastair Miles as Leporello. This is one of the great comic roles, and he plays it to perfection. You will not see a better Leporello anytime soon.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 4 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Syd Barrett's inner visions
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Simon Cowell 'feels like an idiot' after Jules and Matisse scandal
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers