Don Giovanni by Mozart is a sumptuous feast of bawdiness, high drama and hilarity. On opening night, when anxiety can stilt performances, the cast and music were flawless ably supported by Teddy Tahu Rhodes who gave a mesmerising performance reprising his role as Don Giovanni.
Review by Karla Dondio Friday, 2nd December, 2011 Don Giovanni by Mozart is a sumptuous feast of bawdiness, high drama and hilarity. On opening night, when anxiety can stilt performances, the cast and music were flawless ably supported by Teddy Tahu Rhodes who gave a mesmerising performance reprising his role as Don Giovanni.
It’s no surprise that Don Giovanni is a much lauded opera with such an excessive, bombastic character at the centre of the plot; like any great narrative, conflict abounds as Don Giovanni leaves a sway of broken hearts in his wake which makes for riveting viewing.
Don Giovanni is a fascinating character, equal parts light and shade he gives this opera, which could easily be reduced to lightweight fare, such a robust quality. I can’t help but imagine Lorenzo da Ponte, the Italian libretto who built on this larger than life character, giggling and blushing throughout his work on Don Giovanni.
More realistically, though, da Ponte and Mozart demonstrate a respect for this central character because, even though Don Giovanni is emblematic of moral decay, this tale does not pass judgement. Conversely, Don Giovanni is the only character who presents a steady air of ease and jocularity throughout this opera, refusing to repent or be shamed for his sins even when he descends into madness. As an audience we are invited to enjoy, even envy at times, his sense of abandonment for conventional rules of engagement.
Mozart’s score for Don Giovanni has been described as flawless and I can’t find a single reason to refute this. The score frames and moves this story exquisitely from its sunny crescendos and moody reflections to darker proclamations within the narrative.
It cannot go without saying that the cast of Don Giovanni gave superb performances. From Rhodes for whom it seems the role of Don Giovanni was written for, to Jacqueline Dark (Donna Elvira),Taryn Fiebig (Zerlina), Hyeseoung Kwon (Donna Anna), Stephen Smith (Don Ottavio), Samuel Dundas (Masetto), Stephen Bennett (Leporello) and David Parkin (The Commendatore), the cast gave this tale depth and elegance.
The Director, Mathew Barclay, has a dream cast; nonetheless credit must be given to Barclay for his steady handling of this opera to ensure the humour didn’t make a mockery of the characters without losing the drama that was necessary to propel it. The lighting and set designs perfectly offset this tremendous piece of opera and, really, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Friday night than being delighted by this Opera Australia production. Presented by: Opera AustraliaVenue: the Arts Centre, Melbourne
Dates: December 2, 5,7, 10 (matinee), 13,15,17 Image by Jeff Bubsy