Magazine article Opera Canada

Portland Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Portland Opera

Article excerpt

Portland Opera's Don Giovanni caused a stir at Keller Auditorium last Nov. 2. Perhaps that was to be expected, because it was a revival of Christopher Alden's adult-rated production, which enjoyed some acclaim when first mounted at New York City Opera in 2009. In Alden's vision, all of the characters are in hell, cursed by unfulfilled desires or limited by codes imposed by society and religion. That gave the production a curious dose of repulsive energy that made you want to get out of your seat and slap a couple of principals.

The story unfolds in a space that could have been a town hall, church, train station or mortuary. It was empty except for a number of wooden chairs that accommodated the townspeople (chorus members), a big table that held a coffin and, just below a large cross that hung from one of the walls, the bloodied stain from the smashed skull of the Commendatore

Although there was no nudity, the action didn't leave much to the imagination, including Giovanni's one-on-one with Zerlina in Act II, which bordered on rape. The finer points of negotiation didn't concern this Don. He had to unleash his narcissistic libido. The garment-swapping scene between the Don and Leporello effectively made the point that underneath the trappings of clothing they were equals. When the Don towed Leporello all over the floor, it showed how he was

dragging his servant into his schemes.

Baffling gestures included Masetto and Zerlina standing on chairs and extending their arms upwards and away from each other in odd Nazi-like salutes. …

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