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Opera Review (LA): Don Giovanni at the L.A. Opera

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Don Giovanni or Don Juan has always proven to be a character who stirs the imagination like no other. What motivates this womanizer to feel he must seduce every woman who crosses his path? Stranger yet, why do the women fall for his seductions? Is the story an indictment of men, class, women, sexism, or all of the above? It is no wonder that the L.A. Opera is presenting a new incarnation of this monumental work by Mozart. It follows a beautifully sung and imaginative staging that was done by the LA Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel conducting.

The present production takes place on a rather plain, almost boring set. The designer has also seen fit to introduce a curtain to separate the characters from the scene so they seem to be more intimate and available to us. This kind of setting also enables the designer to introduce one hell of an introduction (pardon the play on words) to the Hell scene in which Giovanni is to spend eternity. This setting depends for its success on a strong cast and remarkable director.

Gregory A. Fortner directs the piece in a forthright manner, leaving no doubt who is responsible for the wreckage. Interestingly he finds a great deal of humor in the piece; Leporello’s jokes of course, but also Donna Elvira’s ravings and even in the not-so-innocent flirtations of Zerlina.

The cast is quite strong in this up-close version of the opera. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Don Giovanni, though slight of stature, has a deep resonant voice with which to seduce the women of the piece and the audience. David Bizic is an excellent Leporello. The women come off quite well. Donna Anna is beautifully sung by Julianna Di Giacomo. Soile Isokkoski is the wronged Donna Elvira. Rozena Constantinescu is the flirtatious Zerlina. Joshua Bloom plays her suitor. James Conlon does his usual expert job of conducting.

Don Giovanni will be performed until October 14 by the L.A. Opera.

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