Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Don Giovanni at Opera San Jose

This Easter Sunday I attended the afternoon performance of Don Giovanni at Opera San Jose. The production is double cast, & Sunday's line-up sang out robustly & was uniformly loud, particularly mezzo Lisa Chavez as Donna Elvira, who in the quartet in act 1 was louder than the other 3 participants combined. Baritone Evan Brummel was a bear-like Don Giovanni, & his bellowing voice had a metallic ring. Baritone Krassen Karagiozov as Leporello has a smooth voice & is an athletic figure onstage. All 3 female principals sang with great strength. Baritone Bryan James Myer portrayed an indignant & resentful Masetto, seeming more like a Figaro than a peasant. Tenor Marc Schreiner sang "Il mio tesoro" briskly, but "Dalla sua pace" was omitted.

The orchestra played nicely. The woodwinds were balanced & together, & the brasses made a blended sound in the dinner scene. Conductor Anthony Quartuccio replaced the originally announced George Cleve. Tempos were square. Though Maestro Quartuccio seemed to mark every beat, the orchestra & singers were not always together. Mezzo Tania Mandzy Inala as Zerlina looked scared when she gave the conductor an urgent glance at the start of "Batti, batti."

The simple set consists of doors on both sides of the stage & an open space in the middle. The many scene changes are indicated by walls moving on & off, though all the locations are nondescript. The casts' 18th century costumes are attractive. There were no onstage bands at the ends of the acts. Instead of The Don descending to hell amid smoke & flames, Masetto sneaks up behind him & strangles him, then drags the body offstage.

For Don Giovanni's serenade in act 2, a mandolin is tossed into his hands from a doorway by an unseen stagehand. To complete the gag, Don Giovanni tossed it back at the end of the aria, but the mandolin bounced off the doorjamb & landed back onstage, at which point we saw a hand reach out to retrieve it.

I like the warm & supportive San Jose audience. They attentively followed the action & laughed at all the jokes. My opera companion & I arrived at the California Theatre early enough for me to hear the theater organ in the lobby & watch an elderly couple dance to one of the songs.

§ Don Giovanni
Opera San Jose

Conductor: Anthony Quartuccio
Stage Director: Daniel J. Witzke

Donna Anna: Jennifer Forni
Donna Elvira: Lisa Chavez
Don Giovanni: Evan Brummel
Leporello: Krassen Karagiozov
Masetto: Brian James Myer
Zerlina: Tania Mandzy Inala
Commendatore: Silas Elash
Don Ottavio: Marc Schreiner

Opera San José Orchestra, Chorus, Dancers and Supers

Sun., Apr. 20, 2014 3 p.m.
California Theatre

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