Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Opera Review: Don Giovanni

On Sunday evening I went to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to see Mozart's Don Giovanni.

It was the same night as the Oscars so I spent some time imaging what a Hollywood mega-movie mogul would have made of it, which was the source of yesterday's post - aided, no doubt by that glass of bubbly before hand.

And very good it was too, in particular Don Giovanni who was sung by Erwin Schrott (see picture in yesterday's post), who was just right for the role. Swaggering, tall, handsome and clearly spending many hours in the gym he relished the role, striding confidently across the stage as if he owned it.

The other singers were good too, as you'd expect from a classy ROH production, in particular the servant Leporello (sung by Alex Esposito) and Donna Elvira (sung by Ruxandra Donose above) stood out. Chorus, orchestra, conductor and costumes all ticked the right boxes too.

The only let down was the set which has been a problem all too often for the ROH. It was basically a tall (full stage height) curved wall, the inner side for interiors and the outer for exteriors. That was pretty boring, but it was made worse by using materials like glass and steel that would be more appropriate for a modern executive apartment.

Indeed at times it looked like a curved wall of those glass blocks (above) that are used in fancy modern wet rooms style bathrooms. Now in a modern production that would make sense but the costumes were in period.

Then there was the statue of Il Commendatore which came to life, which was basically a framework of metal, like the burning man but formless, which was swung from side to side and then was replaced by a man with a metal hand (hence the Terminator reference).

I remember the Ring cycle from the 90s where the conductor admitted he tried not to look at the stage: the ROH hasn't a good track record when it comes to set (though to be fair the Mastersingers shortly after was a triumph).

Anyhow a fantastic evening filled with great music and a cracking story.

Updated: well it could have been worse as it seems the ROH has another turkey on its hands as can be seen in this review of Rusalka. For most of the audience this will be the first time they've seen this opera so why did they make the production such an obscure self indulgence?

Picture from: here


Tillerman said...

Was there any sailing in this opera?

JP said...

There was as much sailing in Don Giovanni as there was in The Artist ;)

Alejandra said...

Took my 9yo to hear Beethoven at the Kennedy Center... spent much of it stuffing cough suppressant candies in her mouth (she never coughed, thank goodness). At the end of the first movement there was an explosion of coughing and sneezing in all directions and no fewer than six people leaning in to beg me for cough suppressants. "Always be prepared," say the Girl Scouts.

JP said...

When I was in Geneva recently there was an opportunity to go to a concert conducted by Barenboim no less but I had one of those tickling cough which meant I wouldn't be able to make it to the interval, so didn't go.

"Be prepared" a good motto for sailors too!

Kat said...

Really enjoyed your review! It's a pity about the set production though - that's the magic of the stage!