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Mozart's Don Giovanni @ Parramatta Riverside Theatre

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by glenop (subscribe)
So much to see...so little time to see it all.
Event: -

Anyone who has been on a long haul flight from Australia to Europe knows how gruelling it can be. It can be a horribly long and painfully tedious experience. You drift in and out of sleep in an uncomfortable seat. You look forward to a stopover in Singapore before continuing the agony to your destination. You can't wait for the misery to finally end.

Half way through the first act of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, I was looking forward to that stopover in Singapore.

This touring production sees renowned director Michael Gow adapting Mozart's opera, shortening the original, translating it into English and setting it in 1950's Italy. In attempting to make this opera more accessible and appealing, it tragically fails on almost every level.

This is opera 'lite'. From the pared down orchestra of only 10 musicians to the drab mono coloured terracotta set, it looks and sounds cheap. The score of Don Giovanni is clearly not one of Mozart's most memorable works. Only die-hard Don Giovanni lovers leave whistling its tunes. The director's decision to insert a stab of classic Puccini mid act shows his lack of faith in the strength of the score.

Luke Gabbedy plays the womanising and thoroughly unlikable lead Don Giovanni. The unscrupulous and amorous Don seduces every woman in town and offends everyone else. In the end, Don Giovanni receives his just desserts as the town's populace wreaks vengeance and the Don meets a grisly and fiery demise. The red 50's retro petrol bowser on the set finally makes sense.

A difficult role to play but the uncharismatic Gabbedy can't pull it off and he is totally overshadowed by Adrian Tamburini who plays his likeable sidekick Leporello. Tamburini appears to be the only person on stage actually enjoying himself. Even though the opera is sung in English, Tamburini seems to be the only performer who can enunciate their lyrics clearly.

Don Giovanni was first staged in 1787 and has been performed regularly ever since. Quite why it has continued to be a mainstay for operatic companies is perplexing. It has often been judged as being overlong and musically 'challenging' for both audience and performer.

Ultimately, there maybe no production of Don Giovanni that would satisfy my craving for outstanding arias and a memorable score. The two patrons sitting next to me decided that they would get out in Singapore and not return for the second act. After completing the entire journey, I can recommend this version of Don Giovanni to anyone who has trouble sleeping on long haul flights.

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Why? Because you love Don Giovanni
When: Until 15 September 2012
Where: Canberra, and various regional cities in NSW, SA, and Victoria
Cost: see website
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