Posts Tagged ‘Mozart’

Don Giovanni, Soho Theatre, August/ September 2011

31 August, 2011

This is Robin Norton-Hale’s reduced form of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, updated to the turn of the 21st century with Giovanni as a city trader named Johnny.

Maciek O'Shea as Johnny

A simple set, occasional video projections, a piano and live electronic music, but it’s still essentially Mozart, and among the three different casts, Maciek O’Shea was superb in the main role of Johnny. An insouciant city slicker with bundles of charm and a devil may care attitude, he has made quite enough money already and is now glad to pile one experience on top of another. The challenge and novelty is the thrill, as his faithful intern explains to Elvira in an updated version of Leporello’s Madamina aria, “So regardless of your feelings/ I’ve recorded all his dealings/ But the thing he finds most thrilling/ is a woman who’s not willing”. Using a hand-held digital recorder he summarises Johnny’s amorous conquests, and the Don’s 1003 lovers in Spain alone become the same number for Johnny in London. The long-suffering intern, named Alexander rather than Leporello, was excellently sung and portrayed by Richard Immerglück.

Christina Gill as Elvira, and Richard Immerglück as Alexander

The Soho Theatre’s small space brings us close to the action, and we clearly see Johnny’s callous knifing of the Commendatore before he smashes a window to give the pretence of a break-in. But in this reduced space I found one or two of the female voices came over too strongly at times, though O’Shea and Immerglück were a delight to listen to, and the diction of the whole cast was excellent. It’s always a pleasure to abandon surtitles yet understand every word that’s sung, and there was an engaging immediacy about the duet between Johnny and Alexander at the start of Act II when Johnny decides he’d best make himself scarce and leave his clients to Alexander.

Some loud electronic music at the start of this production came as a shock, and I was ready to walk, but fortunately it didn’t last and the musical support turned out to be excellent. OperaUpClose has done a great job of adapting this longish opera to a shorter and smaller scale, and the scene at the end when Johnny invites the Commendatore to dinner made complete sense. Johnny, who gets his thrills from new experiences, relishes the prospect of having a dead man at his table, and Gerard Delrez gave a strong account of the Commendatore’s demand that Johnny seek forgiveness, which of course he refuses. After the presence has left, Johnny sees his life flash past him, and rushes out through the door. At the end we see an image of a man hanging by a rope — Johnny’s final experience, his own death.

Performances continue until September 17 — for details click here.

Le Nozze di Figaro, Opera Holland Park, OHP, July 2011

9 July, 2011

I’ve never seen this before — not Figaro, I mean, but such extensive choreography, and I don’t just mean movement among the performers. There were chainé turns as servants enter and exit the stage, along with the occasional pas-de-deux, all very well rehearsed and executed. The Crazy Day is the other title for Beaumarchais’ original play, and this production by Liam Steel, who also did the choreography, certainly gave full rein to the craziness. There was a great deal of busy movement and kissing between servants during the overture, and when two women got together — one dressed as a man — I took this to indicate the libidinous nature of the Count’s household, though in fact the servant en travesti later turned out to be Cherubino.

Near the end of Act II, all photos by Fritz Curzon

For a lively production of Figaro with minimal but effective sets, one could hardly do better. The performers moved and so did the furniture. A legless dining table, occasional table, chair and decapitated mirror join in the choreography, and when someone needed to be seated, the chair helpfully moved into place. It was all rather fun, and Matthew Willis did a fine job in the orchestra pit, giving plenty of zip to Mozart’s music.

Elizabeth Llewellyn and Jane Harrington as the Countess and Susanna

As to the singing, when Elizabeth Llewellyn came on as the Countess in Act II, with her cavatina Porgi, amor asking for love, the whole performance went up a couple of notches. She was terrific, and her Act III soliloquy Dove sono i bei momenti when she laments the apparent loss of her husband’s affections was beautifully done. Jane Harrington gave a lively and strongly sung performance of Figaro’s fiancée Susanna, and George von Bergen, whom I remember as an excellent Macbeth in Bloch’s opera of that name two years ago, was an admirably solid presence as the Count. Matthew Hargreaves, who was an excellent Leporello in Holland Park’s Don Giovanni last year, gave a similar performance here as Figaro, but I felt he lacked the vocal depth and bearing this senior servant of the Count’s household should have. Hannah Pedley clearly relished her role as Cherubino, and Barbarina was prettily sung and played by Jaimee Marshall, who was also a very effective partner in one of the pas-de-deux. Lynton Black was an amusing Dr. Bartolo, with a brilliant facial tick when he finds that Figaro is his own son, Sarah Pring was excellent as his wife Marcellina, and Andrew Glover was a fine Don Basilio and Don Curzio.

By the time we were in Act IV it was fully dark outside and Colin Grenfell’s lighting on stage worked beautifully. There were even fireworks heard from afar, giving an effective end to The Crazy Day.

Performances continue every other day until July 16 — for details click here.

A Magic Flute, C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, at the Barbican, March 2011

25 March, 2011

Singing in German, speaking in French with the occasional bit of German or English thrown in, and surtitles in English that sometimes, but not always, kept the same pace as the performers — that was what was on offer and I was rather glad when it was over. The indefinite article says this isn’t the Mozart/Schikaneder opera, though it’s certainly based on it. Essentially this is a pared down version of Mozart, played on the piano, with singers who would not hold their own with an orchestra, and sometimes had difficulty filling the Barbican concert hall. Yes, the bamboo sticks are a clever production idea in this minimalist staging by Peter Brook, and the two non-singing performers, William Nadylam and Abdou Ouologuem had great stage presence. They themselves could have filled the ninety minutes, but as a musical performance this left much to be desired.

Abdou Ouologuem with the flute, photos by Pascal Victor/ArtComArt

Some people evidently enjoyed it immensely and when I asked a friend why he thought it was so good, he said the acting was wonderful, and much better than you get in the opera house. Was it? I go regularly to the opera, and I think the acting these days is often very good indeed. To take one case, the best actor in this production was arguably Virgile Frannais as Papageno, but I’ve seen Papagenos at the Royal Opera and the English National Opera who could knock his performance into a cocked hat.

The Queen of the Night should be a dramatically threatening role, but here she just seemed to be a widow who hates Sarastro because he wears the sun disc that her husband donated to the initiates. A lot of depth seemed to be missing, but perhaps this appeals to those who don’t much like opera? I don’t know, and I don’t quite know what the purpose is. If this were a student performance it would get high plaudits for an imaginative production with almost no props and no orchestra, but then it wouldn’t be playing at the Barbican.

As it is, I shall be going to University College London to see a student performance of Die drei Pintos, an opera by Weber, completed by Mahler, and I’m expecting something much better than this.

La Clemenza di Tito, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, London, March 2011

13 March, 2011

This is essentially Mozart’s last opera, though its premiere on 6th September 1791, was 24 days ahead of Zauberflöte. The title character, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian as Roman Emperor, and the opera is concerned with issues about his choice of wife, and a plot to assassinate him.

The background to the story is that while Vespasian was alive, Titus fell in love with the Judaean queen Berenice, and she later lived with him in Rome. The love between Titus and Berenice was very recently the subject of a new one-act ballet, Invitus Invitam, by Kim Brandstrup, showing Titus’s awful dilemma. Roman opposition to his choice of the foreign queen as a future wife led him to give her up, and this is roughly where the opera starts.

Gillian Ramm as Vitellia

Vitellia (daughter of Vitellius, who had been emperor for over a half a year before being deposed by Vespasian) is determined to marry Titus, which will help regain power for her own faction. Her fury at his plans to marry Berenice lead her to plot his assassination, and to accomplish this she uses Titus’s close friend Sextus, who adores her. When Titus rejects Berenice she hesitates, but when he chooses Sextus’s sister Servilia, she renews her demands for his death. In the meantime, Servilia confesses to Titus that she is already betrothed to Annius, a friend of Sextus and supporter of Titus, so he chooses Vitellia to be his wife, but the plot is already in motion, and Act I ends with a partial destruction of the city and erroneous announcement that Titus is dead.

Titus and Sextus in Act 2, all photos by Richard Hubert Smith

Redemption for all guilty parties has to wait for the second and final act, which shows the magnanimity of Titus. The title La Clemenza di Tito is of course Italian, but this production is sung in English, and for that reason no surtitles were shown. This was a great shame because the diction for some of the singers was not at all clear, and anyone going to see this should first read the excellent synopsis in the programme.

The production by James Conway, with large but simple designs by Neil Irish, worked very well, and the modern costumes with Titus, Sextus and Annius in military uniform were really rather effective. The roles of Sextus and Annius are both trouser roles, so it helps to see them both in very masculine costumes.

The chorus at the end with Titus above

Mark Wilde sang Titus with superb clarity, showing excellent stage presence, and Philip Spendley was terrific as Publius, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard. The opera starts with a monologue by Vitellia, who was most beautifully sung by Gillian Ramm, and Julia Riley sang strongly as Sextus, portraying the role of a man very well indeed. Rhona McKall was a lovely Servilia, and Charlotte Stephenson a most earnest Annius. Bravo to the English Touring Opera for putting this on, but I do have one very serious reservation. With the absence of surtitles it was impossible to understand what was being sung for much of the time. The men, Mark Wilde and Philip Spendley, had wonderful diction, so no problem there, but the women were all to a greater or lesser extent incomprehensible. The ETO certainly do use surtitles, as they did with the two Puccini operas, so there is no reason they cannot do similarly when the operas are given in English, just as the ENO now do.

Apart from this one reservation, I think the ETO are doing a wonderful job with these touring productions of some very fine operas. Mozart’s music for this one is glorious, and Richard Lewis in the orchestra pit fully brought out its beauty, keeping very much in touch with the singers.

After this performance in Hackney, La Clemenza di Tito goes on tour to the following venues: Cambridge Arts Theatre, March 16, 19; Exeter Northcott, March 23, 26; Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, March 29; The Hawth, Crawley, April 2; The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, April 6, 9; The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, April 12; Snape Maltings Concert Hall, April 16; Norwich Theatre Royal, April 19; Buxton Opera House, May 6; Hall for Cornwall, Truro, May 11; Lighthouse, Poole, May 14; Gala Theatre, Durham, May 17; Perth Festival, Perth Theatre, May 20; Grand Opera House, Belfast, May 28.

Die Zauberflöte, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, February 2011

2 February, 2011

Mozart’s Magic Flute can be both magical and portentous, and this production by David McVicar gives us both. As the overture starts, a smartly dressed young man in eighteenth century costume climbs over the Stalls Circle and onto the front of the stage. This is Tamino, whose entrance is followed by dark figures entering the auditorium at all levels, from Stalls to Amphi, carrying lights.

Royal Opera House photos by Mike Hoban

When the curtain opens a huge serpent appears on stage, which Christopher Maltman, as a very engaging Papageno, later claims to have killed. His body language confirms that the ladies of the night are right to gag him for his lies, and his attitudes provide an excellent contrast to the noble Tamino, beautifully sung by Joseph Kaiser.

Maltman as Papageno

This was a super cast, with Kate Royal as a lovely Pamina in her princess-like dress, made dowdy by her captivity, while Anna Devin was a captivatingly sexy Papagena in her short, tight skirts and bright colours. Franz-Josef Selig was a commanding Sarastro, and Jessica Pratt a fierce queen of the night, if somewhat harsh of tone in Act I. The German diction was excellent from most of the singers; Christopher Maltman was particularly good in his delivery, as was  Donald Maxwell as Second Priest — I heard every word with clarity.

The designs by John Macfarlane work very well, giving the three boys a scruffy appearance with dirty legs and old-fashioned shorts and jumpers, and showing splashes of bird droppings on the back of Papageno’s cheap suit. The death-like armour and cloaks for the two men who come on in Act 2 give an appearance of great power as they sing, “Der, welcher wandert diese Strasse voll Beschwerden/ Wird rein durch Feuer, Wasser, Luft und Erden/. . .” (He who walks this path heavy with cares, will be purified by fire, water, air and earth . . .). “Mich schreckt kein Tod . . .” (Death doesn’t frighten me) responds Tamino, and we are engaged by his strength of purpose in seeking enlightenment, unlike the happy Papageno who merely wants a wife and family.

Royal and Selig as Pamina and Sarastro

Incidentally, the Papageno in 1791 at the first performance in Vienna was the librettist, Schikaneder. He and Mozart were both freemasons, which at the time had slightly different connotations from what it has today. This was the age of Enlightenment when reason was seen as an ideal that should underlie legitimacy and authority, embodied here by Sarastro, and opposed by the Queen of the Night.

Finale

It was a treat to have Colin Davis in the pit, giving the singers his full support, and in this dress rehearsal helping the boys to keep on track at one point.

Further performances are scheduled until February 24, with David Syrus conducting the final two — for more details click here.

Don Giovanni, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, November 2010

7 November, 2010

In an interesting and informative essay in the programme, Richard Wigmore discusses this Mozart opera, and writes, “Don Giovanni revolves around the tensions of class, sex and aristocratic abuse of power”. I agree, but this production takes a different tack. The Don appears more as a bumbling academic, and the supper to which the Commendatore is invited at the end is a picnic of bread rolls served from a couple of small plastic shopping bags. Giovanni and Leporello have no table and chair, but sit on the stage and bread rolls are thrown.

Leporello and the Don, all photos by Donald Cooper

During the overture men in strange masks prowl the stage while a circular and dramatically lit metal contraption is lowered from above, and an electric storm rages in the background. But despite the electricity this Don lacked magnetism. Iain Paterson, whom I recall singing a sympathetic and powerful Amonasro in the  ENO’s  Aida two years ago, and a strong Mr. Redburn in Glyndebourne’s Billy Budd this past summer, sang with warmth and strength, but lacked the cutting edge for the Don. And while his stage actions showed suitable nastiness, he gave the appearance of being too nice a guy to release his amoral testosterone-inspired aggression on the world. As the Don’s long-suffering servant Leporello, Brindley Sherratt sang very strongly and gave a fine depth to the evening, just as he did as Sparafucile in Rigoletto last year, and as the monk Pimen in Boris Godunov the year before. He also gave an excellent comic sense to the role, and while he is equally at home singing the murdered Commendatore — which he did at Glyndebourne this year — that small but important role went to Matthew Best who sang it superbly.

The Don with Zerlina

As the pretty Zerlina, whose wedding to Masetto attracts the Don’s amorously intrusive attentions, Sarah Tynan did a wonderful job. This is the same singer who was so good as Adina in The Elixir of Love earlier this year, and Ilia in Idomeneo this summer. She is a delight to watch, and I loved the Irish brogue of John Molloy as Masetto. The role of Donna Elvira, an ex-lover who won’t let Giovanni go, was to have been sung by Rebecca Evans, but she was suffering a bad throat, so Sarah Redgwick stepped in and made a fine substitute. As Donna Anna, whose rape by the Don starts during the overture, Katherine Broderick sang strongly but with a vibrato edge that I did not care for, and it affected her diction. Robert Murray sang her fiancé Don Ottavio, a rather thankless role that was not helped by his costume as the only man on stage wearing a business suit.

The Don meets his nemesis, the Commendatore

This production by Rufus Norris with sets by Ian MacNeil had some nice aspects — I liked the dripping water on the murdered Commendatore as he lies slumped in a drinking trough, I liked the Don’s wooing of Zerlina, and I thought the projected images that Leporello produces when he recounts his master’s conquests, warning Donna Elvira what a cad he is, were a clever innovation — but the plethora of good ideas was all a bit too much for me. The director, Rufus Norris is new to the opera world, though well-known as a theatre producer, and I think the ENO is reaching out to theatre-goers who are relatively unfamiliar with opera. This staging may appeal to younger audiences, though not so much perhaps to those familiar with other Don Giovanni productions.

In the orchestra pit, Kirill Karabits gave an enjoyable and well-nuanced performance of Mozart’s music. Singing in English demands good diction, and the singers did so well here that the surtitles became superfluous.

Further performances are scheduled for November 6, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 27, 29, and December 1, 3 — for more details click here.

Cosi fan tutte, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2010

11 September, 2010

A theologian friend of mine tells me that when the angels in heaven perform in the presence of God the Father they play Bach, but en famille they play Mozart. And in his opinion this is their favourite opera. It certainly is a remarkable work, with its beautiful symmetry centred on the two poles of reason and natural instinct, represented by Don Alfonso and Despina. I have found it psychologically the most disturbing of Mozart’s operas, but that only goes to show that the music is in fact more powerful than is sometimes recognised.

Thomas Allen as Don Alfonso, Royal Opera photo by Mike Hoban

In this gloriously effective production by Jonathan Miller, with its simple set and modern costumes, Thomas Allen was a suave Don Alfonso, fluent and natural, never going too far, and reminding me of his appearance earlier this year in a similar role as Don Prosdocimo in Il Turco in Italia. His early soliloquy Non son cattivo comico was beautifully done, and even his silences had a charming eloquence. Before the start of the performance he made a speech introducing the new season, and during the overture he and two other men were apparently dining together in a low-level box at the side of the stage, before stepping one by one on to the stage to sing — just one of many nice touches in this production.

The whole cast worked wonderfully well together, with Rebecca Evans as a delightfully coy Despina, along with Maria Bengtsson and Jurgita Adamonyte as Fiordiligi and Dorabella, and Stephane Degout and Pavol Breslik as Guglielmo and Ferrando. The voices were well contrasted, particularly the women, who otherwise looked suitably like sisters, and it would not be easy to put together a better cast. Maria Bengtsson, Jurgita Adamonyte and Pavol Breslik were all singing their roles for the first time at Covent Garden, and the fact that they worked so well together was surely due to Jonathan Miller, who had returned to rehearse this revival. It is perhaps awkward to single out anyone, but Maria Bengtsson was quite extraordinary as Fiordiligi, her voice so clear and strong, and her Per pieta in Act II a masterpiece. This is I suppose what the angels might sound like if they perform this opera in the great beyond.

Stephane Degout, Maria Bengtsson, Jurgita Adamonyte and Pavol Bresnik, photo by Mike Hoban

Thomas Hengelbrock, making his Covent Garden debut in the orchestra pit, deserves to feel very satisfied. His support for the singers was always sure and the orchestra played with an admirably light touch. Altogether this is a wonderful Cosi, and I’m delighted to have seen this new cast.

Performances continue until September 24.

The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Opera Australia, Sydney Opera House, July 2010

31 July, 2010

The revival of this co-production with the Welsh National Opera was very much a team effort, with excellent singing all round. Teddy Tahu Rhodes was particularly good as a strongly voiced yet surprisingly vulnerable Figaro. So often this character comes over as all too knowing, never seriously fearing for the loss of Susanna’s love, but here he showed natural human frailty on this extraordinarily crazy day — indeed an earlier title for this Mozart opera was The Crazy Day. It’s one of his three great collaborations with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, who knowing he could not get away with Figaro’s rant against the aristocracy in the original play by Beaumarchais, replaces it with a rant against the perfidy of women. So it’s only natural that Figaro feels himself vulnerable. And with the Susanna of Taryn Fiebig, who sang with a lovely tone and charming air of spontaneity, the main couple was perfect.

The Countess and Count, photo by Branco Gaica

Peter Coleman-Wright as the Count was excellent, both vocally and in his passionate yet superficial desire for Susanna, while still apparently very attracted to the Countess. This was a Count of some complexity, and Rachelle Durkin portrayed a statuesque Countess, singing strongly, though with a little more vibrato than I care for. Half a head taller than Susanna, she managed to decrease her height admirably when they changed clothes in Act IV, and I only wish the designer Dale Ferguson had given her a decent wig, rather than a modern frizz of cultivated wild abandon. This was probably all part of the deliberately anachronistic touches, such as the flash camera, and one or two other things inserted into an eighteenth century environment, but the hair was frightful.

Kanen Breen’s very camp portrayal of Don Basilio was witty, though almost over the top, but that was evidently intentional, and Warwick Fyfe as Dr. Bartolo, with Jacqueline Dark as Marcelina, were rather touching, though his wig made him look absurd. Clifford Plumpton was wonderful as the gardener, entirely believable and not the irascible drunkard he sometimes appears, and Claire Lyon as his daughter Barbarina was gorgeous. The role of Cherubino is always a difficult one — a young woman pretending to be a young man who at one point dresses as a girl — but Sian Pendry’s movements were too girlish, though the costume, which showed her hips all too clearly, didn’t help. And I did think that exhibiting testosterone by banging the ironing board was over the top, though that was presumably the idea of director Neil Armfield, or associate director Roger Press.

The Count begs forgiveness at the end, photo by Branco Gaica

The main thing is that Patrick Summers did a fine job with the orchestra, keeping in touch with the singers while moving things forward at a good pace and bringing out the light and shade in the music.

Performances continue until 23 October, with cast and conductor changes starting in September — for more details click here.

Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne, July 2010

24 July, 2010

This production starts with a bang. The audience, seated in a lighted auditorium, is suddenly plunged into blackness as the first chord comes thundering from the orchestra. Then as the stage gradually lights up during the overture we see a cubical building of stone slowly rotating, showing different facets, and I thought of Dr. Who’s tardis. This turned out to be right on the mark, as the building later opens out to reveal various sets, the last of which shows a long table adorned for dining in a raked and dissolute room. The Commendatore appears from beneath, and drags the Don to hell at the front of the stage. This Jonathan Kent production is cleverly lit by Mark Henderson, and the designs by Paul Brown suggest a spooked version of La Dolce Vita in late 1950s Italy.

The End of the Party in Act I, Glyndebourne photo by Bill Cooper

Within this context, Gerald Finley is the perfect Don, suave and brutal. His killing of the Commendatore is done by dragging him to ground and clobbering him with a brick. After that, both he and Luca Pisaroni as Leporello performed with an insouciance that gave the impression either one would happily shop the other if push came to shove. Their singing had a clarity and attack that made them seem a nasty pair of scoundrels, and with such performances the rest of the cast could be almost passengers, yet there was some excellent support.

The Don with Zerlina, photo by Bill Cooper

Guido Loconsolo performed well as an unusually assertive Masetto, with his two-tone shoes and youthful physicality, and Anna Virovlansky as Zerlina was prettily seductive and absolutely infuriating in her flippant responses to him. Kate Royal sang well as a mousey Donna Elvira, still in love with the Don but clearly incapable of attracting his attentions, apart from her angry assertions of his callous inconstancy, and William Burden was a very fine Don Ottavio, restrained yet powerful. Brindley Sherratt sang well as the Commendatore, and Anna Samuil did her own thing as Donna Anna, singing out strongly for her fans in the audience, yet never quite integrating with the rest of the cast.

The Commendatore crushes the Don, photo by Bill Cooper

This was, at least for me, a super production, and the first orchestral bang at the start was followed by another when the wedding party suddenly poured forth from the cubical structure, and a third at the start of Act II. My only complaint was that the Act II fight where the Don beats up Masetto was poorly done — the blow knocking Masetto to the ground was very wide of the mark — but this is something that should be rehearsed by fight director Alison de Burgh before every performance. However, Vladimir Jurowski did a superb job with the orchestra, which played with immense feeling for the light and shade of Mozart’s score.

Performances continue until 27th August.

Don Giovanni, Holland Park Opera, July 2010

5 July, 2010

This production by Stephen Barlow gives a clear and convincing take on the story, with pre-First World War costumes by Yannis Thavonis rather than elaborate wigs and clothing from the eighteenth century. Nicholas Garrett sang a powerfully aggressive and hyperactive Don of short stature — looking rather like Nicholas Sarkozy — and Matthew Hargreaves was an engaging and sympathetic Leporello. Money in the form of large bank notes exchanged hands between them several times, and it was as if Zerlina and Masetto were watching from the wings, as they purloined the remaining money from the Don’s corpse at the end.

Nicholas Garrett as the Don with Laura Mitchell as Donna Elvira

Zerlina was a prim and bespectacled girl, very well sung by Claire Wild, whom the Don turned into a sexy charmer when he removed her glasses and let down her hair — a clever touch. Her fiancé Masetto was played by Robert Winslade Anderson as angry but ineptly assertive, and his swift sharp beating by the Don was horribly convincing. Laura Mitchell was a strikingly beautiful Donna Elvira with a lovely voice, only spoiled by straining to fill the auditorium. Her acting was superb, and she was utterly convincing in her desire for the ruthless Don. Ana James sang well as Donna Anna, with Thomas Walker looking suitably ineffective as her fiancé Don Ottavio, and Simon Wilding came over very strongly as her father the Commendatore, singing an excellent bass.

Ana James as Donna Anna

The ego-centricity of the Don in this production is well indicated by nearly twenty portraits of him, hanging on the wall and propped up on the floor — all exactly the same — and it’s through one of these that the Commendatore arrives to dine with him. There is no statue of this dead potentate, but a large coffin is brought on and the Don and Leporello see him inside it while a vision appears in a mirror over the fireplace. Stephen Barlow, who created the production — not to be confused with his namesake the opera conductor — is clearly a man to watch, and I had already been delighted by his direction of the Tosca revival in 2009 at Covent Garden. This is an excellent staging in which to understand Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Robert Dean did a very fine job conducting the City of London Sinfonia.