Review: Don Giovanni

Puppet show in the production of Don Giovanni
Puppet show in the production of Don Giovanni
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Leeds Grand Theatre

Strip away the modern frills and the graphic sex scene, and you have a traditional and highly enjoyable new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The director Alessandro Talevi seeks out and highlights the inherent comedy in this story of lechery and betrayal.

Placing the opera within one dark-hued set devoid of stage furniture, Talevi has crafted for Opera North a dramatically taut performance that places the responsibility on the soloists to create in the audience’s imagination the many different locations in which the story takes place. Puppet shows are introduced to fast forward the plot as Giovanni goes in search of new conquests together with his ever suffering servant, Leporello.

Dressing him as an upper-class dandy, Talevi has replaced the dark and sinister aspects of the Don who he presents as a suave and human person on the lookout for women. It is a role so visually ideal for the smooth and elegant vocal qualities of William Dazeley, that, to a point, you cannot really dislike a character who also suffers his female predators.

By creating a team without star status for the major soloists, Talevi has, to a greater extent than usual, sharpened the interplay between characters, though your attention will still be drawn towards the young Meeta Ravel as Donna Anna. The brilliance of her vocal acrobatics points to a young soprano of exceptional qualities.

Never overplaying the comedy, Alastair Miles makes a genuinely funny Leporello; Claire Wild is the vivacious Zerlina; Elizabeth Atherton, not always happy in fast florid passages, is the suitably belligerent Donna Elvira, while the tenor, Christopher Turner, makes an impressive company debut.

October 5, 12, 17, 20, 26, November 1.