One of my favourite Mozart operas, Don Giovanni, was a treat for a Sunday afternoon. Presented by the Sydney Independent Opera and directed by Paulo Montoya, Don Giovanni (aka Don Juan), our lecherous Casanova, is the star of this ‘darkly funny morality tale’. Performed well by Randall Stewart, he was nearly outshone by the brilliantly camp Leporello, performed by Paul Smith.
Admittedly, the last Don G I watched live was the Opera Australia production led by Teddy Tahu Rhodes. I was quite impressed with this version by some wonderful rising stars of the opera world. The lack of sets didn’t distract from the fabulous acting and overall great singing. The cast used the stage to its full and the solos and duets sung from the side of stage were great and audible. The Independent Theatre is quite a ‘boomy’ auditorium, so my only complaint was the orchestra at times were a little overpowering so that we couldn’t hear the singers.
There were some classic one-liners: Don G referring to Zerlina, the country girl, as a ‘desperate housewife’; Leporello suggesting this opera was ‘just like Bold and the Beautiful’; and Leporello suggesting Don G would be like anyone ‘as long as they had a skirt on’. The famous Catalogue Aria sung by Paul Smith was a hit and the older audience in stitches.
I loved the gangster/mafia outfits worn by the men, giving great compliment to the ‘air of machismo and untouchability – balanced by explorations of consequence, moral outrage and revenge as Mozart’s timeless genius takes our flawed hero from smooth operator to hell-bound rebel’. My companion thought Don G was a little too like ‘the Fonz’ but sang well, when we could hear him above the 15 piece orchestra. Donna Elvira dressed in gorgeous black silky dress was quite vampiric and a nice reference to Halloween. We particularly liked the Commendatore’s costume and powerful voice in our favourite section of the whole opera.
A great afternoon of Mozart pantomime that had the entire audience humming the famous tunes in a fabulous old theatre. Looking forward to seeing what this opera company has lined up in 2014.