From the set design to the costumes to the incandescent vocals, The Royal Opera House raises the bar yet again with this performance of Don Giovanni.
From the moment the conductor commands his baton and the orchestra begin to play Mozart’s infamous overture, I truly am stuck by a transcendental feeling. The opera centers around the impulsive and charismatic Don Giovanni, who is a serial seducer, accompanied by his long-suffering servant Leporello, and after committing murder he unleashes a dark power beyond his control.
Not only does the music steal the show, the orchestra do too; throughout the performance several of the players pop up in various different locations on stage to immerse the characters into the luxurious party happening around them. This is one of many great choices made by the director, Kasper Holten.
The flawless vocal ability of the entire ensemble finds home amongst the reflections and shadows in the marble maze which makes up the revolving set by Es Devlin. In the same way the Paul Hamlyn Hall comes to life within minutes of the curtain dropping, the cast light up the auditorium from the moment they step on the stage. I particularly am struck by the powerful vocal performance of Adele Zaharia in the role of Donna Anna. In Act Two, her crescendo moment in Crudele, Non Mi Dir, Bell’idol Mio is a triumph to watch and notably makes the gentleman beside me exclaim “Brava!” to which I couldn’t have agreed more.
I also have to commend the work of Bruno Poet and Anja Vang Kragh on the lighting and costume respectively. With the list of Giovanni’s conquests as inspiration, their design is utterly unique and captivating, perfectly linking the plot with the ink used to write the names down. Utilizing projections, illusions and interactivity with the actors and set, the lighting seamlessly intertwines with the costume progression of the cast as the women around Don Giovanni become tainted with the same ink which makes note of their name on the list. Poet’s use of depth is specifically special in creating new rooms and diverting the audience eye to the moments happening before us.
Erwin Schott as Giovanni presents a character who thrives not so much on desire but on transgression; he is driven not by the satisfaction derived from his actions but from the breaking of a taboo. Just as the entire cast, Schott is a performer with an arsenal of ability and a true gift in performing, as he impeccably takes hold of Mozart’s titular character.
Don Giovanni is on at the Royal Opera House until 18 July 2021. For more information and tickets see the Royal Opera House’s website.