Opera Scotland

Don Giovanni 1979Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Don Giovanni

Peter Ebert’s 1964 production was despatched to honourable retirement after fifteen years, and the company’s Director of Productions, David Pountney, mounted this new staging. He had himself worked on revivals of the old one with great success, and he had young Graham Vick to assist him, so it was all the more disappointing that this version didn’t quite work. However there was nothing seriously wrong with it, and it should have been tightened up on revival. Sadly, it never was revived after Pountney moved on, and it has to be said that several subsequent productions of the opera over the next quarter-century were all a great deal worse. A number of thoroughly mediocre stagings of various operas have been given second outings over the years, where, by contrast, this one, which only a little revision would have converted to an excellent reading, was consigned to the scrapheap with unseemly rapidity.

The designs by Maria Bjørnson were generally excellent – combining the skeletal with the realistic so they changed quickly. Period costumes were effective. Robert Lloyd made his first (only?) attempt on the title role, and was only slightly lacking in appropriate joie-de-vivre. Willard White was instantly a wonderfully characterful Leporello. Felicity Palmer gave a fierily dramatic portrayal of Elvira, but the strain that was audible at the top of the voice sounded unpleasant – she shortly afterwards switched to singing mezzo roles, and continued to do so in the world’s great opera houses for the next thirty years.

Robin Leggate was a beautifully fluent, and youthfully dramatic Ottavio, and Marie Slorach and Donald Maxwell showed their full promise as Zerlina and Masetto. The only surprising casting decision was the introduction of American soprano Norma Sharp as Anna. She was a little, doll-like creature with a light, sweet soprano (and had recently sung Woglinde and Woodbird at Bayreuth). All the notes were there, but she did not project the necessary sense of fire.

Performance Cast

Leporello Giovanni's servant

Willard White

Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter

Norma Sharp

Don Giovanni a young nobleman

Robert Lloyd

Commendatore an elderly aristocrat

Oddbjørn Tennfjord

Don Ottavio engaged to Anna

Robin Leggate

Donna Elvira a lady from Burgos

Felicity Palmer

Zerlina a peasant girl

Marie Slorach

Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina

Donald Maxwell

Performance DatesDon Giovanni 1979

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Nov, 19.15 17 Nov, 14.15 4 Dec, 19.15 6 Dec, 19.15 8 Dec, 19.15

Sadler's Wells Theatre | London

20 Nov, 19.30 22 Nov, 19.30 24 Nov, 19.30

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