The snappy title of this production from Graham Vick and Birmingham Opera Company is taken from Amanda Holden's translation of Don Giovanni; the " reprobate" the title refers to does indeed get his comeuppance here. Like Measure for Measure (set as an opera by Wagner) it's a "comedy", at least it is until sex spills over into murder.
When Rodney Clarke's gloriously odious Don Giovanni - his portrayal, vocally mature and suitably randy, already looks set to become one of the best I've ever seen or heard - flails before Keel Watson's awesome Commendatore (one of his best roles yet - Scarpia beckons; and maybe, with Vick, Verdi), he gets pitchforked straight into the most teeming Friday night drag in Birmingham. Not ironically red-light; rather, the buffeting horror of real clubbing life. Where else, were we pessimists, might one best seek out perfect hell?
Vick's view of opera has soared far beyond others'. The venue is impossible to find, unpredictable, and acoustically fascinating, which provides a developing, yet positive, metaphor for Birmingham City Council'spresent regeneration.
Everyone looks like an undertaker, Vick himself most so (is this wry self-parody?). Designer Paul Brown turns 30 or more coffined seats into almost 50 before just one remains - but whose, we ask? Cue, in the darkness, another trompe l'oeil.
Tellingly here, this murder is black on black; the excellence of Vick's team makes a mockery of Birmingham's ethnic minorities' need to feel "alienated" from such shared cultural events.
Andrew Slater's Leporello sounds unerringly fabulous. Tenor Mark Wilde sings Ottavio with real beauty. Masetto and Zerlina pair well; indeed, all the girls are good (though Andee-Louise Hypolite needs slightly to modify or adapt her tone to others' in the consistently good ensembles).
Natasha Jouhl's Donna Anna is superb: her coloratura is stunning. Conductor William Lacey's youthful orchestra seems better than ever. And the vast community cast adds much. The more Vick asks of them, the more he succeeds. If you like opera, make for the Midlands: this is a real, unfettered triumph.
To Saturday 23 March (0121-767 4260)Reuse content