Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Opera in Sydney is back! The harbour is once again filled with live music, chattering, the clinking of glasses and electric atmosphere. Not a single person who sits at Opera Bar or takes selfies at Circular Quay seems deterred by the gloomy and oppressing weather that clouds Sydney’s most famous view. The energy doesn’t stop there – the Opera House is once again full. Barely a seat available, right up to the 2nd Dress Circle of the Joan Sutherland Theatre – a wonderful turnout for the opening night of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and what a triumphant opening it was.
The stormy evening outside seems appropriate for this dark and twisted tale, set to the most glorious Mozart music which seems an extension of the most fabulous set by Robert Jones. The overture is long (but so is this opera) but Jones’ set is filled with intricate details that could leave you staring for days – and you would be guaranteed to still miss something. His incredible play at depth perception, the ingenuity in the mechanical moving pieces that transform the entire stage with every scene is nothing short of exemplary. No expense has been spared in this marvelous production and for good reason – the production elements are a roaring success. David Finn’s lighting design is the perfect complement to Jones’ aesthetics.
The draped black, theatrical, almost “Phantom” like curtain that opens the show sets the tone for this psychological thriller that revolves around one of Opera’s most famous anti-heroes.
The Opera Australia Orchestra is working hard during this production, as they would with most scores composed by Mozart, and yet they do it with grace under the baton of Guillaume Tourniaire. The Opera Australia Chorus is always fabulous even though they don’t have as much of a chance to shine in this production but whenever they are on stage, or singing from the dress circle, they do not disappoint.
The revival direction by Warwick Doddrell is detailed and deliberate. It all makes perfect sense, which is sometimes not an easy feat in an opera such as this! Of course, none of this would work without the aid of the cast who bring this score to life.
Ukranian baritone, Andrei Kymach, is wonderful in the titular role – he is an enigmatic presence – so engaging, so dark, so charming (it’s almost hard not to root for him!) and his voice is rich and velvety. He is brilliantly matched with Yuri Kissin who tackles the role of Leprello brilliantly. Out of everyone in the cast (and there is not a weak link among them) he surely steals the show. Even a small mishap with the descending curtain at the end of act 1 is handled with humour and delight. He is funny, dark and doesn’t come off as a sidekick or servant at all but rather stands on his own two feet as a multi-faceted and complex character. Juan de Dios Mateos is a fabulous Mozartian tenor with the most phenomenal squillo. He navigates the complex Mozart score with ease and brilliant musicality.
As for the rest of the cast, my – do we have some talented Australian voices! Andrew Williams is excellent as Masetto. The 3 young ladies of this production are all incredibly outstanding. Individual, yet beautifully matched, all of whom deliver some exemplary coloratura singing. It’s hard to flaw them. There is something about Bronwyn Douglass though that makes her shine just a bit brighter than the rest. Her beautiful warmth, stunning presence and acting ability are so enjoyable.
This production of Don Giovanni playing at the Sydney Opera House is surely not one too miss. An outrageously talented cast, a fabulous Mozart score and a production design that comes from a dream. I would recommend that you don't miss this one!
Image Credit: Keith Saunders