Don Giovanni at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

In a New ProductionDonGiovanni- lyric opera of chicago

Music by WA Mozart

A Dramma giocoso in two acts in Italian

Libretto by Lorenzo DePonte

Conductor Sir Andrew Davis

Stage Director Robert Falls

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Thrilling superbly sung Mozart gem celebrates the 60th season of the Lyric Opera of Chicago

The initial production of the new opera company – the Lyric Opera of Chicago-was Don Giovanni on February 5, 1954 so it is appropriate that to start their 60th season the Lyric opens with a new production of Mozart’s masterpiece. Under the innovative stage direction of Robert Falls (from the Goodman Theatre), with terrific sets by Walt Spangler and fine lighting by Duane Schuler, Don Giovani looks terrific. Set in the 1920’s in Spain, with period appropriate customs by Ana Kuzmanic, we see eye-popping women’s dresses and loud men’s attire. But, of course, what makes Giovanni immortal is the fluid, melodic and sensual score by Mozart deftly conducted by conductor Sir Andrew Davis and the skilled musicians of the Lyric.

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This production of Don Giovanni is particularly well sung, especially by soprano and Ryan Opera Center alumna Andriana Churchman making her role debut as Zerlina. Her natural melodic singing was a joy to hear!  She should be proud of her debut performance. The other cast members were terrific also. Marina Rebeka, a soaring soprano and  soprano Ana Maria Martinez as Donna Elvira complimented the scorned ladies.

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The opera, first performed in Prague in 1787, is Don Giovanni’s adventures of love, sex and a ferocious appetite for women. Storyline:  “Don Giovanni is the operatic version of the classic, Don Juan. It tells the story of a pompous womanizer who rapes, seduces, or even marries (and then promptly leaves) ladies so that he can add more names to the list of women he has slept with. He also has a habit to murder their fathers and break up other married couples. Upset by his actions, Donna Elvira, Donna Anna and her fiance Don Ottavio seek out Giovanni to stop him and punish him for his crimes. They find him seducing a bride on her wedding day, but Don Giovanni’s extraordinary skills of deception keep their revenge at bay until the ghost of Anna’s murdered father comes and drags Giovanni to hell.”

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What fuels this opera is the performances by the two main players: the Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni and his servant Leporello played by bass-baritone Kyle K.etelsen who helps Giovanni and reaps rewards and scraps as the womanizer  plunders all women in his path. The chemistry between Kwiecien and Ketelsen is more than the buffo style we see early on.

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This production of Don Giovanni is fast paced, sensual, but in good taste and the orchestra was sharp under Sir Andrew Davis’ tight flowing leadership. With a few surprising actions in Act Two, we see how evil acts and deeds get their just due at the women get their revenge on Giovanni. This new production is pure magic as the vocals evoke the proper deep emotions contained within Mozart’s magnificent score. The three and a half hour work quickly engages us and it keeps us involved as we catapult yourself fully into the melodic sounds of pure genius that we experience as pure joy! Don Giovanni is a fine work for newbies to opera to experience. Take a youngster to see this wonderful opera so you can give them a life-altering arts experience. They’ll love you for doing so.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, call 312-332-2244, www.lyricopera.org, tickets $34 -$234,  running time is 3 hours and 30 minutes with intermission, through Oct 29, 2014

Thu, Oct 2: 2:00pm
Sun, Oct: 2:00pm
Wed, Oct 8: 2:00pm
Sat, Oct 11: 7:30pm
Tue, Oct 14: 7:30pm
Fri, Oct 17: 7:30pm
Fri, Oct 24: 2:00pm
Wed, Oct 29: 7:30pm

 

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