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The Canadian Opera Company has not deprived us of extraordinary productions of Don Giovanni. In 2015 we saw Dmitri Tcherniakov’s original and masterly interpretation. This year we are treated to Kasper Holten’s 2014 coproduction of Mozart’s masterpiece for the COC and four other opera companies including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
At the Four-Season Centre the vocal fireworks start with the bass-baritones Gordon Bintner as Don Giovanni and Paolo Bordogna as Leporello. The tall, blond Bintner display braggadocio and vocal as well as physical agility to please all tastes. Bordogna is not the same size physically as Bintner but he presents a superbly sung Leporello and a fine characterization of the abused servant of the great seducer.
Soprano Mane Galoyan sings an outstanding Donna Anna. This Donna Anna is a consummate liar. She shows no anger or distress about what she and Don Givanni did in her bedroom and then is shocked at what happened to her father without looking at him. She tells some whoppers to her fiancé Don Ottavio about how she was raped and then puts him off for a year when he wants to marry her. She has a marvellous voice, full of lyrical sweetness and Galoyan gives us a Donna Anna to remember.
Don Ottavio, the fiancé (remember) in the hands of tenor Ben Bliss has a marvelous voice, a fine performance and a sympathetic character but he does not stand a chance in the hands of the wily Donna Anna. Nice guys sometimes come last.
Soprano Anita Hartig has a gorgeous voice and her Donna Elvira, the woman unceremoniously jilted by lecher Don Giovanni, is full of passion, anger and vocal beauty. She gets some expressive arias and my only complaint about her is that she does not display the rage that she says she feels. I have no doubt that Hartig sang as directed but I suggest that along with the passion, the regret and her continuous desire for Don Giovanni, she should be allowed to display some wrath, indeed furor, at the way she is treated.
The lovely and lovable Zerlina in the hands of mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh is a delight to the ear and the eye. Poor Masetto does not stand a chance against her wiles delivered so beautifully. A vocal and acting delight.
Bass-baritone Joel Allison plays a reasonably straight Masetto as opposed to a buffoonish or oafish one that some directors give us. He is no buffoon but he is rightly jealous when Zerlina is tempted by Don Giovanni and he is beaten by him. But Zerlina has him tied around her little finger and he is driven by love and not by foolishness. I prefer this interpretation of the role to a clownish Masetto. Excellent work by Allison.
The set by Es Devlin consists of a cubic two-story structure with staircases in the center. It is set on a revolving stage with moveable panels. There are numerous projections on the plain panels including long lists of names presumably of Don Giovanni’s conquests and a rich variety of colors. The interior of the cube has staircases and displays great flexibility.
The lighting, designed by Bruno Poet and handled by John Paul Percox for the revival, and the projections designed Luka Halls, plays an important part in the production but trying to follow the changing lights and projections on the set proved overwhelming at times and I feared losing my concentration.
Kasper Holten is a brilliant opera director and the COC has very wisely brought this production to Toronto.
The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and Chorus were conducted by Johannes Debus in an extraordinary and unforgettable production.
Don Giovanni by W. A. Mozart will be performed a total of seven times until February 24, 2024, at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario.

February 8, 2024
Cultural - Κριτική Καλών Τεχνών

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