Star rating - 8/10
Opera North have chosen the wonderful Mozart opera Don Giovanni as part of their current season, and with such sumptuous, delectable music by a sheer genius it's hard to go wrong. You could almost be forgiven for just closing your eyes and feeling all wrapped up in the velvet blanket of perfection that is Mozart's score, played terrifically well as usual by the ON orchestra, and sung here in the language of love, Italian, as it was intended to be. Almost, because if you did you would miss out on a brilliantly melodramatic and comic production.
Don Giovanni's sexual transgressions and shameless womanising in endless pursuit of the thrill of the chase are meant to simultaneously repel and attract us. And there's nothing better than a spot of revenge in a dramatic context. Perhaps the idea of theatrical vengeance appeals to us so much as it allows us to play out a fantasy of what we would like to do to those who wrong us romantically (or is that just me...). In reality we are more likely to just slink away and lick our wounds when our hearts are bruised and used, but the idea of such glorious retribution is nevertheless very appealing. And the young aristocratic seducer certainly gets his comeuppance in superb fashion here.
Inevitably some of the many thousands of women whom our anti-hero wrongs are out for revenge. And there are some wonderful vocal performances from them in their anger and bitterness, notably Elizabeth Atherton as Elvira; Meeta Raval, singing glorious arias as Anna; and Claire Wild as the young bride Zerlina.
Director Alessandro Talevi plays out the morality tale of the power of ruthless seduction, and the resulting price to be paid, very well. He uses a wonderful 1950's rock and roll theme for the wedding scene - I imagine doing the jive to Mozart is no mean feat. And the set is also lush and innovative, featuring the brilliant concept of a puppet show window on some of the action.
But, and you just knew there was going to be one, the shame of the thing is that William Dazeley is just not substantial enough in the title role, either in stature or voice. And that is quite a big deficiency in such a production, where his domineering presence is supposed to thrill and horrify us. He failed to convince as the evil seducer - but at least I was totally seduced by the magic of Mozart and another brilliant Opera North production. So as that famous opera singer Meatloaf once said - two out of three ain't bad.