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Don Giovanni – Royal Opera House | Review

The Royal Opera chose a revival of Kasper Holten’s 2014 production of Mozart’s opera of betrayal, seduction and retribution to open its 2022-3 season.

Luca Micheletti as Don Giovanni and Maria Bengtsson as Donna Anna. Photo by Marc Brenner.
Luca Micheletti as Don Giovanni and Maria Bengtsson as Donna Anna. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Holten’s production is much darker in tone than many previous ones, certainly not an “opera buffa” which is how Mozart described it, setting the action in a two-storey house set on a revolve so that the action is brought forward as much as possible and the stage never appears too large as each scene is set in a different room or on the stairs of the house. Es Devlin’s surprisingly intimate design is further enhanced by projections, some of which are very distracting or unnecessary, such as flooding the house with red light when the Commendatore (a superb Adam Palka) is murdered.

Singing and acting are generally of the high standard that one would expect at Covent Garden, especially with regard to the male voices. Luca Micheletti in the title role has a gorgeous natural sounding creamy baritone and commands the stage for much of the opera, being suitably handsome yet creepy at the same time. Christopher Maltman is the epitome of Don Giovanni’s servant Leporello. Like, Micheletti, he is a wonderful singing actor and the two work very believably together. His catalogue aria is one of the many highlight of the production and he succeeds in really singing off the words, making everyone not only crystal clear but also meaningful, even if one’s Italian is very basic!

Christina Gansch in the role of Giovanni’s latest hoped for conquest, Zerlina, is also first-rate. Her coloratura is beautifully clear and she also is a true singing actor, not just an opera singer. She succeeds in making the role larger and more important than it actually is.

Her frustrated fiancé, Masetto, is also well sung and acted by Thomas Faulkner and Charles Castronovo demonstrates an unusual yet attractive gravelly voice in the role of Don Ottavio.

The cast is completed by Maria Bengtsson as Donna Anna, whose lower voice needs to be more powerful in this theatre, and Paula Murrihy as Donna Anna.

The orchestra of the Royal Opera House is made to sound rather heavy, more Brahms than Mozart, in the hands of conductor Constantin Trinks. Clever lighting design, always imaginative, ensuring that protagonists’ faces can always be seen, is by Bruno Poet.

Don Giovanni is one of Mozart’s most popular operas and in this production well worth seeing, whether or not you have seen it before. Although sung in Italian, there are continuous unobtrusive surtitles in English which are visible from all seats.

4 stars

Review by John Groves

Serial womaniser Don Giovanni barely stops to draw breath between conquests – not even when one of his seductions ends in a murder. But time is running out for the Don and his servant, Leporello, and they are about to receive a dinner invitation that they simply can’t refuse…

Kasper Holten’s production of Don Giovanni offers a glimpse inside the mind of one of opera’s most notorious seducers. With a spectacular revolving set by award-winning designer Es Devlin and ingenious video projections by Luke Halls, it gives audiences an experience of Mozart’s dazzling drama in all its wit, glamour and darkness.

Conducted by Constantin Trinks
DON GIOVANNI – Luca Micheletti
LEPORELLO – Christopher Maltman
DONNA ANNA – Maria Bengtsson
DON OTTAVIO – Charles Castronovo
DONNA ELVIRA – Paula Murrihy
ZERLINA – Christina Gansch
MASETTO – Thomas Faulkner
CHORUS – Royal Opera Chorus
ORCHESTRA – Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Music – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto – Lorenzo da Ponte
Director – Kasper Holten
Revival Director – Greg Eldridge
Set Designer – Es Devlin
Video Designer – Luke Halls
Costume Designer – Anja Vang Kragh
Lighting Designer – Bruno Poet
Choreographer – Signe Fabricius
Revival Choreographer – Anna-Marie Sullivan
Fight Director – Kate Waters
Revival Fight Director – Simon Johns

8 –26 SEPTEMBER 2022
Mozart’s great opera of seduction, betrayal and retribution.

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  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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1 thought on “Don Giovanni – Royal Opera House | Review”

  1. I thought the set was underwhelming, the dress unthought out, the statue frankly risible and i have to say the lead did not manage to convey either his attractiveness or depravity…the donnas were pretty cool though.

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