Don Giovanni

A touring production by Heritage Opera, dir Sarah Helsby Hughes (who also played Donna Elvira).

It was better than I expected, although no one singer or section stood out. The orchestral pit was occupied by six musicians playing at least seven instruments, and the potential of the simple set was well used through lighting and varying levels. The singing and acting were good enough, although the minor characters like Donna Anna and Don Ottavio were more impressive vocally. Others seemed to have an inflexible volume and tone control. (Perhaps it helps to rest in the wings for long stretches!)

I thought it would be interesting to compare this to the one-night-only performance of die Entführung aus dem Serail at Bad Elster. The theatre is smaller than Bad Elster which hampers the staging, but in other respects Bad Elster was superior. Quality of singing, acting, staging; size of orchestra . . . and cheaper tickets, too.

After watching Mustang last night, I wasn’t sympathetic to the character of a seducer/rapist (even though I was ready to cheer his lack of hypocrisy at the end), so I was inclined to see an indictment of the aristocracy in the opera (same with the Marriage of Figaro). In view of the patronage system at the time, it seems a little unlikely that it would have got past the court censors if it had been understood as an outright attack on the nobility. Perhaps – given the goody-two-shoes figures of Donna Anna and Don Ottavio – I should see it as more of an attack on the wrong kind of aristocratic behaviour. After all, even at that stage it probably seemed impossible to the emperor that monarchs and aristocrats would really lose their heads. So probably not a revolutionary piece – more of a morality tale for Dukes.


About aides memoires

This is a chronological list of things I have seen, places I have visited, and thoughts that have wandered through the space between my ears. A reading group of one; an art appreciation society limited by my preferences and prejudices; opera criticism by one who knows nothing about the subject.
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