Glyndebourne On Tour opens its visit with Jonathan Kent’s brooding production of the Vienna version of Mozart’s difficult and complex Don Giovanni.
Revised for the tour by Ashley Dean, this Don Giovanni is no likeable rogue: he is a nasty piece of work – a rapist, a letch, a bully, violent and in great need of anger management training - and Auden Iversen portrays this sociopath superbly even if the murder of the Commendatore is somewhat slapstick. The frankly distasteful content is given full throttle and it never ceases to astound me how a mainly grey audience laps this up with laughs and sniggers galore.
A slow, somewhat damp first half on opening night in Plymouth, the voices which soared above the muffled but generally competent but lacklustre crew were those of the outstanding Natasha Jouhl as Donna Anna and Robert Gleadow as Leporello. Soprano Jouhl’s voice is by turns delicate and sonorous bringing great depth to her pieces while bass-baritone Gleadow is wonderfully oily and treacherous as Don Giovanni’s beleaguered but strutting manservant. You just know he would sell his granny in a blink of an eye.
In a far crisper second half, soprano Nicole Heaston steps up to the mark as the wronged but besotted Donna Elvira in her Glyndebourne debut. Soprano Eliana Pretorian also turns in a sparkling performance as the kitten turned tiger Zerlina in a fine piece of acting – particularly as she exacts her revenge.
Jakub Hrusa leads the Glyndebourne on Tour Orchestra from a doom-laden overture through a no-messing, strident performance to emphasise the nastiness and darkness going on on the stage above.
Fellini-like reliance on the good old black and white costume/set motif is relieved by splashes of blood red as we are transported into a gloomy Seville of perhaps the late 19502/early 60s.
But the most stunning part of the evening for me is Paul Brown’s magic cube of a set (and the stealthy scene shifters who worked miracles without a sound). The box of tricks rotates and opens to reveal the set and flats becoming a garden, church, drawing room, churchyard and more in unfathomable swift succession. The staging is superb and in particular the torching of Don Giovanni’s home is quite breath-taking.