Don Giovanni – review

Glyndebourne, Lewes

Like all productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Jonathan Kent's – new at Glyndebourne last year, and here revived by Lloyd Wood – has to negotiate a coherent path through a piece the composer labelled a comic opera but which begins with an attempted rape, moves to a fatal duel, and ends with the leading character being consigned to hell for his unrepentant wickedness.

It is no easy task, and, as with many contemporary stagings, Kent's veers closer to a serious opera with comic episodes than a comic piece with violent interruptions. Even the interpolation of a rarely performed farcical scene for Zerlina and Leporello fails to lighten the tone.

What raises this year's revival above the original is the vocal excellence of the cast, who provide secure and regularly flamboyant accounts of every number in the piece; and the conducting of Robin Ticciati, who maintains a steady build in dramatic momentum that reaches a genuinely thrilling climax as Giovanni is eternally damned. The canonical fire missing from the visuals at this point blazes out of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment instead.

Some of the relationships in the piece, played in costumes redolent of Fellini's La Dolce Vita, remain fuzzy. But Lucas Meachem captures the manic obsession of Giovanni's ruthless search for sexual thrills while Albina Shagimuratova's soprano coasts easily through Donna Anna's heroic coloratura. Both Toby Spence's Ottavio and Miah Persson's Elvira are perfectly voiced, while Marita Solberg's sexy Zerlina leads David Soar's volatile Masetto by the nose, without him even noticing.


George Hall

The GuardianTramp

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