Opera Kitchener tackles Don Giovanni – wins! 4

Review by Danny Gaisin
               Unlike the 18th century Venetian Giacomo Casanova; DON JUAN is pure legend. But the Da Ponte/Mozart operatic drama gio coso- DON GIOVANNI is the real thing. Ranking in the genre’s ten most popular; the validation is understandable: – crazy plot…incredible music!

Don G. & his servant face the Seville mob

The Plot: – coincidently Shaw; Hoffmann (Tales of); Flaubert & Kierkegaard have all produced variations thereof. Donny is a successful satyr with about 1800 notches on the bedpost.When he kills the father of one of his conquests; sworn revenge leads to his comeuppance, but not before some more seductions and an improbable – even for opera buffa – denouement. From the amazingly creative overture with its’ D-minor to D-major transformation, to finale; the work abounds with arias & music that has successfully withstood 2¼ centuries.

Opera Kitchener has enlisted baritone Mark Gardner for the title character. His rich voice and animated corporeal stances give credibility to someone so successful in bed. He is the epitomic ‘bad boy’ that’s supposedly so attractive to the opposite sex. Gardner’s role requires mostly duets and the man never tries to upstage his intendeds or especially his servant Leporello. The necessary collaboration between servant & master affords Douglas Tranquada (bass) numerous opportunities to almost steal scenes. His ‘notte e giorno’ is a dynamite rendering that deserves an ‘encore’.

The two seductees – Donna Anna & Donna Elvira are soprano roles that divas offer to die for! Anna is the wronged fiancée whose Dad is skewered; Elvira is an ex-episode who won’t go away and thus becomes a catalyst for the ending. Natalie Donnelly sings Donna #1 and her role requires almost continual despair (today she’d be under a suicide watch).  Fortunately, Ms. Donnelly let’s her voice project her distress relieving the audience from witnessing histrionics. Donna #2 is sung & acted by Catherine Gardner and her contribution to the success of this rendering is immeasurable. She IS a Donna Elvira…a fearless woman of spirit and indomitability. When she takes on Don G. she continually fights him, his wealth & power, social status – to a consistent draw.

The most outstanding, yet only a support role, belongs to Anna’s fiancé Don Ottavio. The tenor voice of Emilio Fina is so mellow yet fraught with subdued emotion and potency, that I began hoping that director William Shookoff,  and stage manager Penelope Cookson might change the ending and have Ottavio ‘brochette’ his betrothed’s attacker. Fina seems completely at ease from C-3 to even above A4 with nary of hint of excessive vocal effort.

The other support roles of Zerlina & her new husband Masetto, plus the dual appearances of Donna Anna’s dad; are more than adequately sung by Caroline Déry; William Lewans & Dylan Wright. Opera Kitchener is still in its financial infancy and thus suffers from a lack of big-budget promoting or lavish sets, but for true lovers of opera, it doesn’t scrimp on vocal or orchestral talent and that is what the genre is all about. Last night it was staged at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre. Tonight (Saturday) it will be at Calvary Church in Kitchener. Mar. 30th it performs at Guelph’s River Run & Mar. 31st at Central United in Stratford.

Speaking of the L.A.C., I had hoped to capture a perfect photo op that takes place mid-way through Act I. The chief F.O.H. who questioned me seemed to have difficulty grasping my fifth estate credentials thus that moment was blown. So, today’s LAC staff lesson…  learn to recognize & decipher    M  E  D  I  A  &  P  R E  S  S   !!!

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4 comments

  1. Thank you for adding my name.
    Would you kindly correct the titles given:
    William Shookhoff — Conductior
    Penelope Cookson– Stage Director
    I really would be very grateful for these changes. I am so often called a Stage manager — and it is a completely different job — as I am sure you are aware.
    Thank you.
    Penelope

  2. By the way — did you see Emilio on Canada’s Got Talent last night?
    Hope he makes it to the next round and all the way to the winning moment!
    P

  3. new jordans 2014 wholesale
    I leave a response whenever I especially enjoy a article on a site or I have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation. It is a result of the passion displayed in the article I browsed.
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    . I was moved enough to drop a thought 🙂 I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
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  4. Except for our actual website; we are NOT on any of the communal sites. BTW, if you think some of the commentaries are less than erudite; you should see those which we trash before they are uploaded!.
    Thanks for YOUR comment.
    Editor; O.A.R.

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