Hate the Player, Not the Game: DON GIOVANNI

Costume Designer Tilly Grimes, © T Charles Erickson Photography, Set Designer Laura Jellinek, Each ticket holder receives free admission to Rock’s Gun Show.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Conducted by David Angus
Stage Directed by Emma Griffin
Fight direction by Andrew Kenneth Moss
BLO Concertmaster: Sandra Kott
BLO Chorusmaster: Michelle Alexander

May 1 – 10, 2015
Boston Lyric Opera
The Shubert Theater
Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Opera singers are gifts that keep on giving. Along with my usual attendance of BLO’s Don Giovanni, I had the pleasure of experiencing a bonus adventure the Friday evening before while out with my wife. She and I were supposed to be on a romantic date. We did not count on a cameo by a premier performer. I was to be well-compensated for my diverted attention.

My lovely wife and I were enjoying deliciously refreshing beverages at Fajitas & ‘Ritas on West St, downtown Boston (tip your waitstaff) when a gentleman (OS*) at the bar began loudly explaining to the jovial bartender than he would never sing in a musical. My ears perked up. To paraphrase wildly: opera was the life for, OS. Then he insinuated that he was currently working on a major production. He had my full attention.

I was soon to learn that this proud performer had dual purposes for being at the bar. He was catching the ballgame and also acquiring personal experience for his character. Shortly after the OS’s exclamation, he was joined by a pretty, significantly younger woman (YW*). YW would stand with OS at the bar and chat, pitch mild woo, then leave, return, and repeat. This kept happening until OS left. It was kinda cute. It looked like a mid-life crisis in action. It was delicious.

I held out hope that this was a Don Giovanni performer engaging in a public mini-spectacle. I didn’t want to incorrectly assume that he was anything more than a happy man loudly enjoying a drink with a pretty lady on a Friday night. That was, until I identified him on the BLO stage last Sunday. OS was as entertaining in performance as he was person.

Anyhoo, Don Giovanni is terrific fun. Duncan Rock as the title character is hot as Hell. Jennifer Johnson Cano (Donna Elvira) could make even the modern equivalent of the phone book engaging, dramatic and poignant. Meredith Hansen is beautifully expressive as Donna Anna. Chelsea Basler (Zerlina) and David Cushing (a Masetto who earned his trilby) are perfectly matched. The costumes were beautiful but the mix of time periods didn’t work (so many of the audience members were confused). I could go on.

This is a darling production with nuanced staging by Emma Griffin (who should do more in Boston, please) and extra-special, extra-fun bonus features. Please do attend. It’s a ball regardless of whether the performance is on or not.

* Pseudonyms have been assigned for clarity.

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