Women of the #MeToo generation got a bit tired of waiting for today’s grey stone statues to come to life and took matters into their own hands.
David McVicar’s production of Don Giovanni has shades of the #MeToo perspective in the way the male characters are constructed as entitled, insensitive and prone to violence.
The women show a range of responses: Donna Anna calls it out, Donna Elvira thinks she can reform him while the disempowered Zerlina is slightly flattered and hugely terrified. This means, while Da Ponte called it a dramma giocoso, and Mozart called it an opera buffa, the message is that this is no joke.
In this revival, it is, however, full of energy and unflagging interest, carried in no small part by Luca Micheletti in the title role, singing with precision, style, and vitality. He holds the stage with confident poise, always cast as the initiator rather than the follower of action.
The three women against him are all vocally well matched to their characters.
Eleanor Lyons, as Donna Anna, sings with fiery colour and her high notes cut through in ensembles. There is a hint of shrillness but #MeToo is about being noisy. Her Act 1 revenge aria Or sai, chi l’onore negotiated the part’s wide angular range with defined edge and tone.
Jane Ede’s Donna Elvira was warm and nuanced, notably in the gracious lines of Donna Elvira’s final humiliation in Act 2, Mi tradi quell’alma ingrata. As Zerlina Anna Dowsley had a capacity to bring together the dramatic and musical moment, carrying the character’s feeling into every line and look. Her voice grows in dramatic expressiveness and depth with each role.
Richard Anderson sang her lover Masetto with firmness, the characterisation de-emphasising tenderness in favour of assertion.
Shane Lowrencev played Leporello as something of a gangly libertine on training wheels, his apologies presented as unpersuasive, his singing supportive and proficient.
Juan de Dios Mateos had a thin carefully etched sound as Don Ottavio. He portrayed the character as selfish, insipid and rather ineffective, and Donna Anna’s decision at the end to tell him to wait another year, which sometimes seems over-pious, came across as entirely sensible.
Gennadi Dubinsky was imposing in life and death as the Commendatore. Conductor Xu Zhong’s approach was somewhat four-square, without drawing out contrast or colour, and his coordination was not without perilous moments. Robert Jones’s design of greys and silver-edged darkness and symmetry around a central lowering staircase creates a look of impressive menace.
Until February 27