Don Giovanni Reviews

Classical Opera’s 2015/16 London season concluded with the company’s first ever performance of Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni. Read selections from the reviews below.

The next company performance of a Mozart stage work will be a production of The First Commandment (Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots) at St John’s Smith Square.

****
“Never has Mozart’s writing here sounded so remarkable; it is not so much that Ian Page pushed the music, though speeds were quite brisk, but instead he encouraged the players to explore the full range of timbres and colours available to the period instruments. There was a vividness and unvarnished directness to the music which made it remarkable…

…[Jaques Imbrailo] made a suave and charming Don, singing quite lightly with a superb sense of character. He brought a lovely charm to the serenade (when leader Matthew Truscott enterprisingly swapped his violin for a mandolin), and was a vivid torrent of words in the champagne aria…Â Imbrailo’s Don really was someone you would forgive anything, with a remarkable range of facial expressions and an impishly sexy charm…

…Helen Sherman made a lovely contrast, not just in terms of voice type but in the way that her Elvira was revealingly human and intensely warm. She brought a lovely lyric freedom to the role, with not hint of pressure in the upper register…The graveyard scene was thrilling, as Shipley’s voice combined with the imaginative timbres and colours that Page conjured from the orchestra.

Planet Hugill
Read the full review here.

 

****
“Classical Opera’s concert-performance at the Cadogan Hall was a welcome relief from director-led Mozart. It was by no means lacking in dynamism and acting, being a masterclass in how to do a concert performance… and do it well.

…The orchestra started as it meant to go on with a perfectly paced overture that veered between urgency and whimsy, while the period-instruments contributed an earthy sound that is not commonly heard in the work. Particularly impressive was Pawel Siwczak on the harpsichord, whose contributions were vibrant and alive to the contours of Mozart’s writing. What a fine note on which to conclude Classical Opera’s season!”

Bachtrack
Read the full review here.

 

****
“A dramatic account, demonstrating that period instruments can still surprise in Mozart.

Mozart operas on period instruments …it’s hardly a new idea, but it’s still the exception rather than the rule. The 18th century sound has a lot to offer in Don Giovanni, as Ian Page and his Classical Opera Company demonstrated this evening. Clear string tone and vibrant woodwind colours were the order of the day. There was plenty of drama too, with Page expertly pacing the narrative and drawing an impressive and often robust tone from his modest forces. He also assembled a fine cast, no superstars here but rather a well-balanced and well-integrated ensemble. The result was a compelling reading, and a concert performance that never felt lacking in drama for want of staging…

…As the first act got under way, the orchestral tone became rounder, though no more conventional, allowing Page to apply weight to the climaxes. This, combined with his excellent sense of pacing, led to some real impact at the conclusions to each of the acts. The wooden floor of Cadogan Hall even vibrated in sympathy with the bass through the act I finale, a rare occurrence in the period performance world. Page assembled an impressive cast, mostly young but all convincing in their roles. At the heart of the ensemble was the pairing of Jacques Imbrailo as the Don and David Soar as Leporello. Imbrailo is a little light of tone, and he sometimes lacks menace – he’s always more seductive than sinister, but he dominates the stage, despite his small frame. He has a beautiful tone as well, and excellent diction. Soar has a more robust bass, but it is similarly smooth and lyrical. Although this was unstaged, the two acted together throughout, and the interaction, physical and musical, always felt natural. Soar was a late addition to the cast (replacing an indisposed Darren Jeffrey), so much of this was probably spontaneous. Three excellent singers in the female lead roles: Ellie Laugharne has a direct, pure tone as Zerlina, Helen Sherman brings fine coloratura to the role of Donna Elvira, and Ana Maria Labin has a dark, complex vocal colour as Donna Anna – perfect casting all round in other words.”

The Artsdesk
Read the full review here.

 

“All credit to Ian Page, Classical Opera and the eight performers that this was truly an ensemble performance…

…Page directed an energetic and colourful performance from the orchestra… the first notes of the overture, with the surprisingly timpani sound eradicated any risk of an ‘end of the week’ feeling in the audience. The woodwind in “Madamina, il catalogo è questo” buzzed over energetic string playing which was throughout meticulous and the brass barked threateningly both in the overture and in the final scene…it was good to see Bradley Travis reprise a vocally strong Masetto in a stronger production that the recent one by ETO…

…This wasn’t part of Classical Opera’s ambitious Mozart 250 project but it did reinforce what everyone at Cadogan Hall already knew. Ian Page and his ensemble are consummate Mozartians.
Can we hope that, having performed Don Giovanni in concert now, when it returns in a few years time it will be fully staged? I hope so, but regardless of how it does return, expectations from the remaining da Ponte operas will be very high indeed.
Classical Opera won’t disappoint.”

Lieto Fine London
Read the full review here.

 

“I particularly enjoyed the ongoing dialogue between Jacques Imbailo’s Don and David Soar’s Leporello. Imbrailo’s Don was suave, snarling, sexy and unpredictable while Soar brought humour, ingenuity and low cunning to the role of Leporello. There was an ease and naturalness to their exchanges and the diction was exceptionally clear. The trio of female leads also characterised their respective roles well with Labin giving us an intense and dramatic Donna Anna, Sherman a feisty and touching Elvira and Laugharne an innocent, wayward Zerlina…

…There was much to admire in the performances of Mozart’s immortal arias and ensembles…

…Sherman brought lyricism and rich vocal colouring to the role of Zerlina and her handling of Mozart’s coloratura was particularly impressive…

…The climactic final scene with the Commendatore had a searing intensity and Imbrailo, Soar and Shipley are to be commended for recreating this most famous scene in such a vivid and powerful way.”

Seen and Heard International
Read the full review here.

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