Opera Scotland

Don Giovanni 2016English Touring Opera

Read more about the opera Don Giovanni

The visits of English Touring Opera to the Perth Festival have for three years been unable to use Perth's intimate theatre, currently being remodelled.  The alternative venue, the city's new concert hall, has much larger audience capacity, a good-sized orchestra pit and a good-sized stage. It does not have significant wing space or a fly tower. The company has therefore been restricted to one popular opera, with simple scenic requirements. Previously The Magic Flute worked well, though the more complicated needs of La bohème were less easily accommodated last year. The unit set for this Don Giovanni was the most successful of the three. This year, ETO's stagings of Gluck's wonderful Iphigénie en Tauride and Donizetti's rare but moving Pia de' Tolomei, given its British premiere at the start of the tour, have not therefore been given Scottish performances.

Early reports of the staging by Lloyd Wood were not entirely encouraging. We were promised a concept derived from the extensive Viennese sewer system at the time of Freud - a network of substantial tunnels under the city - like Victorian London or classical Rome. As it turned out, Anna Fleischle's set took the form of a curved back wall - a half-cylinder, with tunnels leading off, and a substantial staircase allowing a second playing area to be used above. This all worked extremely well. The costumes were early twentieth century - Elvira's dress looked like something from a Klimt painting. Anna and Ottavio could have wandered in from an E M Forster novel - though they never looked as though they were in mourning for Anna's late father.

Michael Rosewell and his band revelled in the spacious pit this venue provides. The sprightly performance of the overture launched the evening at a brisk pace which never faltered, and the dramatic highlights worked well. The Jeremy Sams translation was witty and clearly projected - the surtitles no doubt helping to highlight the main contributions. There were some cuts - Ottavio's first aria 'Dalla sua pace' and Elvira's 'Mi tradì' were not performed - but the musical edition of this piece is always likely to be contentious, and it is stimulating to hear different musical interpretations. For instance nowadays we usually hear more vocal ornamentation than was given on this occasion.

With ETO regular Nicholas Lester in the title role, tall and elegant, and Matthew Stiff, rather different, as Leporello, these two central characters rightly dominated proceedings. There was a formidable trio of women in opposition. Gillian Ramm and Ania Jeruc made highly effective contributions as Anna and Elvira. However Lucy Hall's lovely performance of Zerlina made it possible to realise why Victorian audiences saw her as the most important of the three characters. She was particularly well supported by her Masetto, Bradley Travis. Robyn Lyn Evans made an unusually powerful Ottavio and Timothy Dawkins an effective Commendatore.

The production photographs are of the alternate cast, some of whom did not appear in Perth.

Performance Cast

Leporello Giovanni's servant

Matthew Stiff

Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter

Gillian Ramm

Don Giovanni a young nobleman

Nicholas Lester

Commendatore an elderly aristocrat

Tim Dawkins

Don Ottavio engaged to Anna

Robyn Lyn Evans

Donna Elvira a lady from Burgos

Ania Jeruc

Zerlina a peasant girl

Lucy Hall

Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina

Bradley Travis

Performance DatesDon Giovanni 2016

Map List

Perth Concert Hall | Perth

19 May, 19.30

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