A gripping performance of one of Mozart’s darker comic operas, pitching a serial philanderer on a 1920s cruise liner – all very Agatha Christie.
The production succeeded in rooting the plot in amongst our present-day preoccupations showing us an abusive man devoid of little or no personal responsibility.
Don Giovanni is more dark than comic. Violent and abusive, the oily Giovanni (Ashley Riches) was fuelled by a rampant sense of entitlement and a devishly seductive voice.
Donna Elvira (Victoria Simmonds) portrayed a complex character burning with conflicting emotions that at times verged on something desperate. Determined to reveal her lover’s duplicity, Simmonds’ deft depiction saw Elvira move from comedy to pity. By the conclusion of the production the woman looked shattered. Little wonder.
Exquisite duets from Zerlina (Ellie Laugharne) and Masetto (Ian Beadle) in both acts – a pairing who’s counterpoint was beautifully woven with the orchestra’s rich score, offered much-needed hope.
Leporello (John Savournin) was the stand out star of the production. Giovanni’s sidekick is a demanding role, but Savournin skipped nimbly from feeble obsequiousness to shameful collusion, from one scene to the other.
That Giovanni is the one who gets his come-uppance at the end doesn’t quite ring true in this day and age. Leporello enabled, empowered and apologised for his master’s behaviour. Shouldn’t he have suffered too? One wonders how the man sleeps at night.
Great ensemble from the City of London Sinfonia too, though given that we had a lute play live, I would have thought a harpsichord would have sounded more authentic than the comparatively unconvincing piano during some of the recits.
The set and costume design was polished. The setting too was inspired, making Don Giovanni’s eventual demise plausible and the dead Don Pedro brought back to life an almost forgivable plot point.