I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Don Giovanni was a bad, bad man
Opera Queensland's Don Giovanni launched last night at the Playhouse Theatre.
Traditionally performed in two acts, Mozart's Don Giovanni is the compelling tale of a nobleman who travels Europe with his man-servant Leporello, seducing women by the thousands. After leaving the bedroom of soon-to-be married Donna Anna, Giovanni is confronted by and kills her father, the Commendatore. With murder, Giovanni crosses a line which will see his ex-lovers/victims and supernatural forces deliver the ultimate justice; Giovanni's philandering ways see him condemned by the world and ultimately consumed by the fires of hell.
In an age where we are all more willing to call out bad behaviour and sexual abuse, Hume has reinvented this 18th Century tale. Thankfully, while confronting this serious subject, Hume has not forgotten to entertain her audience. The production was filled with contrasts. The richness of the music, performed by Queensland Symphony Orchestra, contrasted with the simplicity of the set. The drama of this shocking story was effectively balanced with humour, and characters were stretched exposing the complexity of human behaviour.
Hume introduced a shift in Giovanni's psyche, while traditionally arrogant and driven by a sense of entitlement, we now also see a man deeply committed to his own amusement, including amusement derived by watching others suffer. Duncan Rock plays Giovanni as a seductive sociopath, cajoling, funny and charismatic, yet dangerous and destructive. Playing the part of a real beast while looking rather like Disney's handsome Gaston, Rock was both amusing and detestable at the same time. I guess that is the dilemma of picking the bad-guys..... they can be so charming!
Rock is a talented young Australian, an equally gifted singer and actor. However, my favourite sections of this performance were when he was partnered in song and act by his man servant Leporello (Shaun Brown)—the funniest and my favourite character of the evening. Brown played a delightfully, down trodden and conflicted character. Both appropriately appalled by Giovanni's behaviour and equally jealous of his stature and success with the ladies.
Shaun Brown (Leporello)
Eva Kong (Donna Anna)
Hayley Sugars (Donna Elvira)
In addition to pushing Giovanni's character, Hume has also pushed his victims stories. Once again we see contrast ....... Donna Elvira (Hayley Sugars), is torn by her equally strong desires to both have and expose Giovanni, while Zerilina (Katie Stenzel) seduced by the promise of fortune appears all too willing to sacrifice her honour and betray her long suffering fiancé Masetto (Samuel Piper). While all the female leads were delightful, the evening was stolen by soprano Eva Kong playing Donna Anna; she presented the most interesting contrast of the night..... the perfect picture of both strength and vulnerability.
The final contrast was kept for the finale. Where in the original, true vengeance was in the hands of Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore (Andrew Collins), in an interesting twist, Hume has Giovanni's many victims stand up and take their own revenge. While I really liked the concept of this ending, I think some creative costuming and more aggressive choreography could have pushed this too even greater heights.
Overall, I was thoroughly entertained and would therefore recommend this performance to all.