The IU Opera Theater’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is played well and sung well. The staging satisfyingly offers both dramatic action and space for the lovely extended vocal pieces. There is a new cleverly designed and beautifully executed set and costumes by C. David Higgins.
Mozart’s Don Giovanni is described as a tragic-comedy. The tragic frames the comedy, as the opera opens with the Don killing an intended’s father and ends with the Don’s being dragged down to hell. In between there are plenty of comic complications as the Don and his servant Leporello pursue one woman after another, while more or less nimbly avoiding jilted women and jealous men.
The IU Opera Theater’s production emphasizes the comedy. Even the opening scene of murder has an underlay of comic irony. We’re not sure whether the cry from Donna Anna that brings her father to his doom is a call for help to frustrate the Don’s advances or an effort to hang onto him. However, when it comes time for the tragic end of the unrepentant Don the production really comes up with an impressive finale. There’s smoke, thunder, lightning and a massive horse which magically disappears with the Don in the saddle.
In Saturday night’s cast of Don Giovanni Justin Moore was a dashing Don with Gregory Brookes appropriately lumpish as his servant Leporello. Naomi Ruiz was chaming as the peasant girl Zerlina and Jong-Hun Cha dutiful as her fiancee Masetto. Carolina Castella was both noble and a bit silly as the abandoned, but still smitten Donna Elvira. Joanna Ruszala took the vocal palm of the evening for her final aria as Donna Anna. Florin Olimpio filled the often thankless role of her fiancee, Don Octaviao. John Paul Huckle was comanding with the low notes of the Commandatore.
David Effron conducted . Stage direction is by Tito Capobianco. The IU Opera Theater’s production of Don Giovanni plays this Friday and Saturday at eight in the Musical Arts Center.
You can find this review along with a special feature, "Who’s Who in Don Giovanni " on our web site and an interview with designer C. David Higgins on our Arts Interviews page .