ENO’s new Don Giovanni is
of a respected theatre director failing to rise to the challenge of
new life into a standard of the operatic repertoire. It’s
becoming a familiar story at the Coliseum.
Ideas that might have blossomed in the
hands of an
experienced opera director fall limp for Rufus Norris, best known for
End productions of Cabaret and
De-glamourising the Don
is a good move
but the opportunity to show him as a vicious exploiter is missed. Iain Paterson’s seducer, a dead-ringer for
Ross with floppy hair and a natty suit, is more louche than depraved. Projections during the Catalogue Aria
show his potential as a rapist of old ladies and children (nowadays a
portrayal of the famous rake would hardly be acceptable) but this
not followed through and it’s typical of a directorial tentativeness
From a couple of damp-squib fireworks during the
there’s plenty of extraneousness: amplified deep-breathing, odd
and cries, electric crackles and a ballroom full of dancing couples
sua pace.” The chorus suffer
similarly. There’s mum and dad
dancing during the disco, lots of motivation-less running around and an
unthreatening waving of kitchen utensils when the crowd turn on a
Musically things are not a lot better. There’s little singing of any real distinction
and the anticipated UK opera debut of Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits
with a tendency towards sluggishness.
Robert Murray despatches Don Ottavio’s arias with
and Sarah Redgwick, a late replacement for an indisposed Rebecca Evans,
impresses as Donna Elvira but it’s sad to say that Katherine Broderick’s
as Anna doesn’t hit the mark.
She’s a talented young singer, who left Guildhall only three
and has a sparkling future ahead but, at this stage, this is just too
Fine experienced singers like Brindley Sherratt as a
and Matthew Best as the Commendatore do what they do but there’s little
in their direction (although the latter’s death sitting white-suited
graffitied wall is a striking image).
Jeremy Sams’ translation is wildly colloquial,
some of the time, with plenty of humour punctuating the action. The Catalogue Aria is completely re-written,
replacing the countries with a reckoning of monthly totals and a witty
presentation. Other stabs at
humour misfire, such as Zerlina (excellent Sarah Tynan) recognising
equally good John Molloy) by his protruding arse. The
timing of the music just doesn’t allow the joke to
happen and there are various other misjudgements of a similar kind.
With an inexplicable structure that hangs above the
all evening looking like the tracks from a child’s railway set, the
more and more resembles a runaway train hurtling towards destruction,
driver busies himself in one of the carriages.