David McVicar’s production of Opera Australia

Don Giovanni
Opera Australia
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Opera House
January 5th
★★★½

When Opera Australia launched warnings of impending violence against women in its latest production carmen On Cockatoo Island, it was unclear whether the motivation was concern or dramatic irony. The absence of such warnings in David McVicar’s production of Don Giovanni suggests that it must have been the latter.

Although Mozart’s work employs the formal framework of Italian comic opera, McVicar’s concept finds nothing of charm or comedy in the behavior of his eponymous serial rapist, while masked lechers shove away in Robert Jones’ sets of crumbling stone and David Finn’s tomb lighting.

Andrei Kymach as Don Giovanni has impressive confidence on stage and an overbearing threat.

Andrei Kymach as Don Giovanni has impressive confidence on stage and an overbearing threat.Credit:Keith Saunders

While Don Ottavio, Donna Anna’s fiancé, searches in earnest for evidence, the empowering moment comes at the very end, when it’s the women Don Giovanni previously wronged – the ghosts of all those in Leporello’s famous “Catalogue” aria – who rise up behind the women Commendatore, stone statue of tutelage, and drag him to hell.

This revival uses a cast of young singers propelled by conductor Guillaume Tourniaire’s fast tempos as if driven by a fate they cannot control. As Don Giovanni, Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach has impressive confidence on stage, pacing intrusively with haughty menace and singing with effective poignancy at assertive moments like the carousing Act I aria Finch’ han dal vino. In softer moments he sought out contrasting hues and the natural tones of the different parts of his range remained separate rather than integrated.

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Yuri Kissin as Leporello found adept articulation to articulate the rapidity of Tourniaire’s speeds with a clean, focused sound and a dry, shrugging manner. As Donna Anna, Sophie Salvesani had simple clarity and calm tenderness in her aria in Act II Crudel. This is a promising voice and one looks forward to seeing its colors blossom.

Juan de Dios Mateos sang the serious and ineffective Don Ottavio with admirable precision of pitch, line and tonal definition – valuable assets when his voice fills. Bronwyn Douglass’ Donna Elvira captured some of the character’s flawed emotional contradictions in the Act 2 aria In quali eccessi although their pitch is not always entirely sure and Tourniaire’s tempi at times gave the impression of breathlessness.

Cathy-Di Zhang sings Mozarts Opera buffa Heroine Zerlina had a light tone with opportunities to grow in warmth and colour. She portrayed the poor servant as frozen with fear. Andrew Williams captured the dignified simplicity of her partner Masetto.

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/opera/dark-unflinching-production-unmasks-serial-rapist-don-giovanni-20230106-p5cavc.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture David McVicar’s production of Opera Australia

Jaclyn Diaz

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