Magazine article Opera Canada

United Kingdom

Magazine article Opera Canada

United Kingdom

Article excerpt

Jonathan Kent's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni first appeared at the 2010 Glyndebourne Festival. A mesmeric title-role performance by Gerald Finley and relentlessly hard-driven conducting by Vladimir Jurowski made it a gripping theatrical experience that left no time for questioning the detail. Revived for the 2014 Festival by director Lloyd Wood, it was less overwhelming.

In place of the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, this year the London Philharmonic was in the pit, and a gabbled overture proved immediately it was: less suited to breakneck tempos. Thereafter it was steered unimaginatively through the score at moderate pace by conductor Andres Omzco-Estrada, whose most distinguished moments came when he efficiently rescued a few instances of lost synchronization between stage and orchestra.

At lower voltage, the less convincing aspects of the production loomed larger. The late-1950s Italian setting retains a frisson of Catholic guilt but sacrifices the framework of strict social order. Don Giovanni's aristocratic status is therefore no longer a factor in his seduction of Zerlina and the stiff formality of the Spanish minuet at the masked ball is meaningless in the context of a drunken rave-up. The inclusion of the additional "Vienna text" scene, in which Zerlina torments Leporello, means that the dramatic line is broken and tension sags somewhat. However, with such a fine Zerlina and Leporello, one could hardly complain too much.

The new cast acted splendidly and negotiated Paul Brown's vertiginous sets nervelessly. …

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