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Keohone projected each buffo aria, especially a notably lascivious catalogue aria, with plenty of comedy and vocal panache and his studied characterization brought alive Leporello's love-hate ambivalence towards the Don, especially in the ensembles which were amongst the evening's highpoints: the witty wedding dance duet with Mazetto, also strongly sung by Eamonn Dougan, the disguised lover-swapping at the start of Act II, with its suspense filled sextet, and the tragi-comedy of the graveyard and supper scene, with its piquant musical in-jokes. Here the Commendatore, Julian Close, poised on a pedestal in a foggy silvery cloud of smoke, created an awe-inspiring mood with his booming cavernous, spectral voice that also made for a spine-chilling denoument, with the supper table in the shape of an angled crucifix, with dangling swords adding further crosses as if to pit heaven against hell.

This production, marked by simplicity, directness, and involving drama, helped Mozart's cause and was supported all the way through by purposeful and colourful orchestral playing, in an ingeniously reduced version by Tony Burke, under the propulsive baton of Jonathan Lyness. His spirited tempi kept the momentum, only very occasionally hurrying in some of the slower arias that needed broader phrasing. While the lack of a chorus was never a problem, it was evident that all the singers would blossom in a large opera house. Meanwhile Opera Project may be enjoyed in Bristol this month. Viva Le Don!

Copyright © 10 October 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK





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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller