Monday, August 08, 2011

Thou are 'Wall'!

It felt a bit like being in Midsummer night's dream yesterday at the Rose Theatre's performance of Don Giovanni. The Rose theatre, a nice modern opera house style theatre, with rather a cramped pit for the band, finds itself in the fifth and 6th floors of a building that houses a shopping centre on the lower floors, including a Whole Foods, which was far too tempting at the end of the show. The price of property in New York...

The staging was rather interesting (the programme does not make clear who was the producer - was it Ivan Fischer himself?). As the audience trundled in, Ivan Fischer, the conductor was already sitting on his chair, and a number of statues (the choir, wearing grey clothes and with all-over make-up) inhabited the very sparse stage, consisting of a pair of podiums (podia?) and nothing else. Occasionally the statues moved - probably a health and safety requirement, particularly on the part of the woman who was in a Lenin pose for a long time. In the course of the evening they sometimes danced, formed walls, the doors to Hades (effectively), and very effectively shuffled off anyone who died (sitting at the side of the stage, above the band, I could see all this).

The playing was great, as was the singing, generally - though I felt that Myrto Papatanasiu, as Donna Elvira, seemed to hang about a lot waiting for the next entry in her first contribution. Maybe that was how it was designed - but that moment was an intense conversation, and you would expect her to launch into her words immediately the previous person had finished speaking. Zoltan Megyesi's Don Ottavio was rather unfortunately staged - as his Donna Anna (a fine Laura Aikin) was totally distraught about her father's desk - he just stood far away from her - it was not exactly like he was comforting her, even though the words suggested this. (The surtitles were rather fun, by the way). So occasionally the production hung a bit, and there was too much standing and singing - the stage could have been busier. At the same time the production had us by the edge of our seats (thanks to the surtitles which got the most laughs, even though those were also used rather sparingly).

Leporello (Jose Fardilha) had real character, and Don Giovanni (Tassis Christoyannis) came across as a real bastard, just as he should have done. At the end the audience was delighted - and isn't that what counts?