Don Giovanni by Mozart is one of my favourite operas, the music, characters and story combine to make a wonderful experience. Opera Loki, and in particular the director Jane Gray and the translation by Samuel Lom have made something refreshing, modern, accessible and most importantly, something very entertaining.
Lom has changed the setting of Don Giovanni to Sicily in the 1970’s, this change works incredibly well, Don Giovanni really can be seen as a Sicilian ‘Don’, full of menace with Leporello being his chief henchman. What I love about Lom’s translation is how accessible he has made it to modern audiences using modern language, ‘giving a toss’ for instance and interpreting the heart of the original libretto in to a modern context- it is Don Giovanni by Mozart, they are the same characters, same story, same music (though during a set change David Rose’s ‘The Stripper’ was playing which was very random but worked well!) but brought up-to-date. For introducing an audience to opera for the first time, you would be hard pressed to find a production that could do such a good job at making someone love opera.
The singing was universally wonderful with some great acting too (all of the more physical acting was choreographed very well). My favourites were Mark Nathan who played Don Giovanni, he brought a real swagger, darkness, menace with a good dose of humour to the role and his voice was spot on, very strong and I think that in the next few years as his voice expands and gets even stronger he will be even better. Sarah Foubert was faultless in her role as Donna Anna, bringing strength, passion, vulnerability and an amazing voice, truly stunning. Whilst these were my favourites, none of the cast were bad at all. Anna Sideris as Donna Elvira and Shaun Aquilina as Leporello made their roles their own, the little bits of bringing the audience in to it worked well and their performances, particularly Sideris’, regularly stole the show.
The opera itself, the production, the performers were all faultless, however there was one negative, which had nothing to do with the opera itself- it was the venue- Saint Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, unfortunately the acoustics where I was sitting were pretty poor, making distinguishing some of the words nigh on impossible at points which was a terrific shame as everything else was fantastic. I really hope that Opera Loki put this on again soon, but hopefully at a different venue to properly showcase the incredible talent that they have. Still well worth attending.