Saturday, October 29, 2011

Opera Atelier's Don Giovanni

Opera Atelier's Don Giovanni (Photo by Bruce Zinger)
Opera can be such a serious affair but in the case of Opera Atelier's presentation of Don Giovanni, the goal was laughter. Director Marshall Pynkoski introduced the opening night production by equating Mozart's character of Don Giovanni to Warren Beatty which in and of itself caused much mirth. He also said  that the two ways to create a comedic opera were 1. speed and 2. youth. By filling his cast with attractive and trim young singers, dancers and actors, and by keeping a lively pace, he achieved both goals and the audience responded with laughter throughout the show and with a standing ovation at the end.

Opera Atelier's Don Giovanni (Photo by Bruce Zinger)
Award-winning designer Martha Mann created costumes that achieved that difficult balance between period dress and modernity. Although the colours were subdued, and sometimes bordered on somber, the effect was harmonious. Subtle details like sequins and lace allowed the lighting effects to dance over the costumes, adding another dimension of sparkle. Of particular note were the glorious men's outfits, particularly the brocade vests and the velveteen breeches worn with fabulous thigh-high (Puss in boots style) boots. Another highlight were the swirling cloaks with colourful satin lining on the cuffs and hoods for the masquerade. With such a simple garment, the mastery of cut was evident in the movement and dimension created by these glorious cloaks.

Set designer Gerard Gauci did his usual magic with immense trompe l'oiel panels. His sense of humour was evident in the painted corner of the drop that curls to reveal the back of the canvas and the sheets of music that appear to float to the floor. Small details like a painted bush lifted up to reveal Act II added to the fun.

Although the opera is sung in Italian, I didn't need to look at the translation. The actors movements, gestures and changes in their voice conveyed the story beautifully. In fact, I think I've seen this opera several times before, but I don't ever remember enjoying it so much.

Opera Atelier's Don Giovanni is playing at the Elgin Theatre this week only:
October 30, November 1, 2, 4, and 5, 2011. The production will also be travelling to Ohio later this month. For tickets and more information, visit the Opera Atelier website. And by the way, Opera Atelier will be performing in Versailles in May 2012!

Photos provided courtesy of Opera Atelier and are subject to copyright.

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