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Simplicity and Directness

MALCOLM MILLER assesses Opera Project's
'Don Giovanni', currently on tour


The young touring Opera Project Company is currently presenting Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol UK (4-21 October 2006), along with Britten's The Turn of the Screw. I attended the Mozart production, with a slightly altered cast, at Longborough Festival Opera, near Oxford, on 21 June 2006, which ran together with Verdi's Rigoletto. Director Richard Studer has pared down the action to its essence, resulting in clarity, yet also energy in its choreographed ensembles, which take place on a simple touring set, comprising three symmetrical door frames, symbol of the three women, the trio seeking vengeance and the three wedding bands, and a stage that highlights the action in Mark Beasley's wonderfully ambient lighting.

This is an ensemble opera, and all the singers were uncannily aptly cast, producing stirring textures full of intensity, through which Amanda Holden's racy English translation was always audible. Simone Sauphanor as Donna Anna had a rich, powerful voice that would fill any large opera house, yet modulated with expressive finesse in her major arias. If thinner in timbre and physique, Peter van Hulle as Don Ottavio lent his arias passion, while the Act I trio, with Donna Elvira, was a thrilling highlight. Sandra Oman as Elvira showed great virtuosity, as in her fiery Handelian aria and in the Quartet, superbly enhanced by her convincing portrayal of the deluded enamorata. Pippa Goss's Zerlina projected beguiling tonal purity, and if in 'Vendrai Carino' there was a slight lack of power in the lower register, 'Batti Batti' showed resilient, stunning beauty of tone.

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Copyright © 10 October 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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