Don Giovanni


COLLEGE CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI | 2012

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DON GIOVANNI by W.A. Mozart
Conductor: Junhyun Cho
Cast:
Orozco/Stinson, Richards/Ward, Woodbury/Cameron, Li/McEuen, Ho/Aslam, Lovato/Morales, Jordheim/Santos, Owen/Tvrdik
Production: M. Halpin (scenery), R. Senske (costumes), A. Hanson (lighting), S. Bak (hair/make-up) photos courtesy of Mark Lyons

“There is something to challenge everyone in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Directed by opera professor Nicholas Muni, this is a penetrating look at the legendary character known for liberty and sex for all and for his unbending stance when justice catches up with him. Muni, who challenged audiences regularly when he was artistic director of Cincinnati Opera, has taken Mozart and his librettist at their word in staging “Don Giovanni.” He and the production team follow only what is in the text or implied by Mozart’s music. The ambiguities of the other characters are well noted, also. There was more than a hint that what went on between Giovanni and Donna Anna at the beginning was more amorous than she is willing to admit. Here, Muni posed a further question: Does Donna Anna ultimately leave her betrothed Don Ottavio? Tenor Yi Li as Ottavio was the first character to make an appearance onstage — before the Overture even began. He tore up a letter, seemingly mourning a lost love. And it was Donna Anna who threw herself on Giovanni’s lifeless body at the end. The set is simple, but effective, consisting of a large framed portrait that reverses to reveal Giovanni’s squalid room, with corsets hanging everywhere and graffiti on the wall with the names of the countries he has visited and his “score” in each.  In act I, the large frame contained an equestrian portrait of the Commendatore. Giovanni ripped off the canvas before entering his chateau for the party where he plans to seduce Zerlina. Underneath was another portrait, a dragon-like steed and a red-gloved rider clutching naked women (Giovanni?).  The frame lay in pieces in act II where Giovanni and Leporello exchange clothing so the Don can avoid detection and Donna Anna’s allies end up apprehending the wrong man (Leporello, whom they mistake for Giovanni). It was a scene of delightful chaos, confused even further by having the characters wear updated clothing. Interestingly, the questions and ambiguities posed by the production added cogency to the final scene, where the characters re-assemble to celebrate Giovanni’s damnation and reflect on their own feelings and experiences. Does anyone live happily ever after? Does Donna Anna reject Don Ottavio?”
Mary Ellyn Hutton, Cincinnati Classical Music Journal (February, 2012)

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