Opera Australia Review 2023: Don Giovanni


January 14th, 2023. Gordon Williams

The designation of Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto for Mozart’s 1787 opera “Don Giovanni” is “dramma giocosa” – that is, playful or jocular drama. However, Don Giovanni (aka the legendary Don Juan) roamed Europe seducing women (2,065 of them by calculation of the servant Leporello in Mozart’s version of the tale), and the 19th century’s Romantics saw the demonic side of this work.

So, you might say, did Scottish director Sir David McVicar in this 2014 Opera Australia production revived by Warwick Doddrell at Sydney Opera House on January 5 for the start of Opera Australia’s 2023 season.

This was a cruel “Giovanni” – making no bones about his charming nastiness – and light on the farce of Giovanni’s previously-dumped beauties (Donna Anna and Donna Elvira) pursuing him as he in turn pursues current attractions. (Well, of course, one of those beauties, Donna Anna, is the daughter of the Commendatore a man Giovanni has murdered, so let’s not over-emphasize the farce). Yet there were still laughs as with Yuri Kissin’s well-timed punchline of “and in Spain, 1,003” in the Act one aria which is named for the catalogue cited above.