Don Giovanni, Opera North, Newcastle Theatre Royal
Mozart’s marvellous music has carried many a poor production of this popular opera over the finishing line without too many dissatisfied customers.
But Alessandro Talevi’s production – the South African also directed The Turn of the Screw, here two years ago – is a worthy vehicle for the music.
Some things I didn’t quite get, like the 1950s interludes with teddy boy quiffs intruding on what otherwise seemed like a vaguely Edwardian setting.
And the little puppet shows perhaps didn’t work as well as had been intended.
But I loved the full-blooded performances – William Dazeley as the dastardly Don Giovanni who philanders, so he claims, out of generosity to womanhood and Matthew Hargreaves as his long-suffering servant, Leporello.
Elizabeth Atherton as Donna Elvira, who misguidedly lusts after the Don, and Meeta Raval as Donna Anna, who hates him because he killed her father, sing beautifully.
But there’s a scene-stealing performance by the petite Claire Wild as Zerlina, the hapless young bride whom Don Giovanni generously attempts to seduce.
How to put this tastefully? This is a singer happy to demonstrate that a glorious aria can be performed in flagrante delicto.
The singer’s Twitter feed is a scream. “Don’t know how you sing while doing ‘that’.” tweeted a woman. “Nothing like a bit of dry humping on stage on a Saturday night,” remarked a man.
In answer to the first remark, the singer – who has a fantastic voice, by the way – replies: “haha thank you! Lots of rehearsals!”
This does indeed look a well- rehearsed show and it exudes a sense of fun.
The ending should be grisly, dirty Don going to hell at the behest of the effigy of Donna Anna’s dad (Michael Druiett with his face ghastly pale).
But even here comedy’s to the fore, with Don hauled skywards, limbs flailing.
Its a feelgood production. Soundgood, too, thanks to the orchestra and that great singing. Thoroughly enjoyable.