Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Director: Alessandro Talevi
Conductor: Christoph Altstaedt
Reviewer: Tate James
Don Giovanni, lover and leaver extraordinaire, has arrived out of character at The Lowry in Salford. Mozart’s dark tale sees the famous scoundrel commit murder, provoke adultery and otherwise stir the pot before his inevitable comeuppance.
Opera North’s latest incarnation paints the hero (is he actually the hero?) as the love rat of every age, and as such he is transported throughout time whenever he escapes a difficult situation of his own creation. After murdering Donna Anna’s father in the late 19th century, he disappears and emerges once more in the 1950s, only to escape the wrath of Masetto and Zerlina and arrive in real time 2018 for another chance at mischief. The intention of this device seems to suggest that man has rarely changed through the years, and that there will always be women who fall prey to his attention; but unfortunately it falls short of its mark and has the potential to add an extra layer of confusion to the evening for anyone not quick enough to catch the surtitles.
As his loyal manservant, Laporello, John Savournin is in actual fact our hero; his unfaltering loyalty (bought or otherwise) to a Don Giovanni who is perhaps slightly too old to be believable provides much of the evening’s comedy. But this production truly belongs to its female leads, whose voices soar effortlessly and who each, in turn, provide the three contrasting loves he incites: innocence, obsession and lust. A particular note of excellence must be made for Kathryn Rudge’s provocative and nigh-on-acrobatic aria as Zerlina, whilst fully straddled upon Ross McInroy’s masculine Masetto.
There are a lot of new ideas in this production, both in design and direction, and a lot of them work well, such as the mannequin heads suggesting the catalogue of women Don Giovanni has worked through and the resurgence of these women as his personal demons to drag him to his demise. Unfortunately some of the bolder choices, such as the time-travel and the clumsy photo frame close-up front cloth, aren’t always integrated in a slick enough fashion to live up to the ingenuity of their design, and sadly prove to be style over substance. The surprising use of puppetry within the photo frame, though, provide the light relief from any discordant and over-complicated moments.
It is definitely an entertaining evening at the theatre, and the narrative quality is just as impressive as the quality of Mozart’s Music!
Reviewed on 7th March 2018 | Image: Bill Cooper