Mozart Don Giovanni, Opera Holland Park
Tuesday 29 June 2010
There’s narcissism and there’s narcissism and in his terrific new staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Opera Holland Park director Stephen Barlow leaves us in no doubt as to who’s the fairest of them all.
There’s only one image in this Don’s picture gallery and it’s replicated over and over in frames large and small. Of course, society made him what he is and society – all courtly airs and dances - makes its own entrance before Mozart’s overture has run its breathless course. The ubiquitous Don is masked - as the devil, who else? - and since a pool of blood already marks the spot where the Commendatore and his assailant will fall there can be no escaping that the devil’s work, to say nothing of his finest tunes, will dominate the evening.
Barlow has opted for a late Victorian setting to best reflect the class and privilege which is at the heart of this turbulent 24 hours. Designer Yannis Thavoris ingeniously complements the handsomely restored façade and leaded windows of the original house with dark wood panelled surfaces, quickly spiriting us from mansion to hotel to tavern. The reckless dash of the narrative is unremitting (keenly propelled by conductor Robert Dean with especial panache forthcoming from the OHP Orchestra’s wind section) but Nicholas Garrett’s Don Giovanni seems to languish in the eye of its storm. He delivers the hectic “champagne aria” from the comfort of his favourite armchair; “La ci darem la mano” has him sustaining an easy mellifluous legato whilst engaged in a sweaty full-blown seduction of Zerlina. The gawky plain-looking girl in glasses (a marvellously engaging and ample-voiced Claire Wild) is suddenly all-woman as the Don lets down her hair and removes the horn-rims. Never mind that her husband-to-be in the next room – a “gentleman” does what a “gentleman” pleases. The fine line between consent and abuse doesn’t exist for the ruling classes. Don G serenades and even the maid and bell-boy quickly succumb.
Only Leporello (a lanky and likeable Matthew Hargreaves) sees him for what he is – though his own self-interest (usually cash) invariably brings him round. The women scorned make free with the embellishments, especially Laura Mitchell’s Donna Elvira who is heard to best effect when she isn’t pushing to fill the space; Ana James’ Donna Anna makes her presence felt with a highly creditable “Non mi dir”. Thomas Walker’s Don Ottavio bites off more than he can chew with his ornamentation of “Il mio tesori”.
But dramatically this Don Giovanni is all of a piece. Barlow has a conspicuous talent: international opera houses should be knocking at his door.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
Guillaume Tell gang-rape scene causes uproar at the Royal Opera House
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS