Filled with lust, greed, comedy and even the supernatural, it is with some admirable ambition that LUU’s OperaSoc take on Don Giovanni, one of the great Mozart operas. First staged in 1787, it tells the tale of the licentious Don Giovanni (Nicholas Porter) as he exploits his way through the lives of those who fall under his charm. Seduction is everywhere and it is with this in mind that Kate Stevens’ impressive direction questions whether our decisions are ever truly made of our own accord. This is not an opera for the fainthearted, and OperaSoc tackle it with a passion and precision that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
‘This is not an opera for the fainthearted, and OperaSoc tackle it with a passion and precision that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.’
The production takes us to a 1920s manor house, drawing effectively upon the period’s infamous cocktail of class and debauchery. It is here that we find Giovanni and his bumbling, ambivalent servant Leporello (Johnny Hill). Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s decision to position Leporello as the backbone of the opera is skilfully portrayed by Hill. His attention to both the tragedy and the comedy – we are treated to an impressively humorous aria on the subject of Giovanni’s two thousand and sixty-five lovers – buoys the narrative. There is a fine contrast here with Porter’s scheming, isolated Giovanni. His decent to Hell, complete with a seething, demonic Chorus, is both musically and visually captivating.
Special mention, however, must go to the musical direction of Tim Gillies. Tonight’s orchestra deliver Mozart’s huge breadth of emotion with clarity and fervour. There is little space to hide in music of such precision yet this production rises to the challenge, carrying the audience with it. Personal highlights came from the voices of Morgana Warren-Jones’ Elvira and Emily Higgins’ portrayal of Lady Anna; both hold a musicality that epitomises this opera’s passion.
‘Special mention, however, must go to the musical direction of Tim Gillies. Tonight’s orchestra deliver Mozart’s huge breadth of emotion with clarity and fervour’
There are few places where opera is made genuinely affordable. That OperaSoc present Don Giovanni with such warmth and intensity is testament to a group determined to deliver their art to all who will listen.
Don Giovanni continues its run until the 4th Feb, and you can buy tickets online here, or from Opera Soc’s stall in the union.
(Image courtesy of OperaSoc)