Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
One of Mozart’s most prominent operas, Don Giovanni, thrusts into The Lowry, Salford in a masterful retelling of the story of the lascivious Don Juan. Performed as part of Opera North’s Fatal Passions season, this opera seems more relevant than ever to a modern audience, especially in light of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.
This legendary narrative follows the story of sleazy Don Giovanni, who defines himself by his ability to successfully seduce women. In this production, Don Giovanni is presented as a time-travelling love rat, who has the ability to travel to different eras to escape various awkward situations he manages to steer himself into.
Following committing the murder of Il Commendatore, after forcefully trying to seduce his daughter, Donna Anna in the late 19th century – Don Giovanni flees the bloody scene and reappears once again in the 1950s. Arriving in the midst of Masetto and Zerlina’s wedding, he once more causes a ruckus by making advances on the young bride. The sexual menace flees the scene and emerges in the present time 2018.
There are helpful surtitles, placed either side of the stage, to aid the audience in understanding Don Giovanni’s shift in temporality. Adding further depth to the narrative – it’s a clever device and signifies that Don Giovanni is incapable of changing his licentious ways.
William Dazeley’s Don Giovanni is twisted and cunning – I developed a real dislike for him and his antics. Don Giovanni travels with his resilient and faithful manservant, Leporello, played by John Savournin. The female performers really command in this performance – Jennifer Davis as Donna Anna and Elizabeth Atherton as Donna Elvira are both fascinating to listen to and watch. Kathryn Rudge shines as Zerlina – comically brilliant and flawless vocally as she performs a breathtaking aria while straddling her new husband.
Madeleine Boyd’s set and costume design is a real treat and frames the action perfectly. The use of puppetry and a portrait framing device adds further humour and breaks up the serious implications of Don Giovanni’s moral failure. All set to Mozart’s powerful and beautiful score, Opera North’s Don Giovanni is a really entertaining night out for seasoned opera lovers or those, like me, who are new to the genre.