Opera to open with ‘Don Giovanni’
He tricks. He seduces. He kills. He’s Don Giovanni.
One of opera’s most famous productions will be brought to life at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Musical Arts Center, kicking off the 2012-13 IU Opera and Ballet Theater season.
“Don Giovanni” will also show 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and 22.
The double-cast opera is similar to the original production that premiered at the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga in 1787.
With music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and story by Italian librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, stage director James Marvel said Friday’s and Saturday’s performances will be different for audiences.
“That plays into the idea of having the two different casts and allowing them to pursue their own kind of interpretation,” said Marvel, who previously stage directed “Albert Herring,” “Suor Angelica,” “Gianni Schicchi” and “Lucia di Lammermoor” at IU.
“Don Giovanni” is a two-act opera in which Giovanni seduces and abandons women.
Some of the central characters include Leporello, Giovanni’s servant; Donna Anna, whom Giovanni attempts to seduce in the first act; Don Ottavio, Anna’s fiancé; and Commendatore, Anna’s father.
In the end, Giovanni receives his comeuppance in the form of a statue which comes to life.
A different version of “Don Giovanni” at London’s Coliseum in 2010 depicted Giovanni, according to critics, as a “seedy rapist,” complete with an urban setting.
Opera Las Vegas’ version of “Giovanni,” which was performed last summer, featured the actors in modern clothes in a minimalist set.
In the last few months, Marvel said he has watched about eight productions of “Giovanni.”
“When I see what one director does, I may disagree with every single idea I see,” he said. “There might be some small element that they put in their production that I love and I decide to put that one small element in a much grander kind of setting.”
C. David Higgins, who has worked as scenic artist at the MAC since it opened in 1971, created the set and costume design.
The physical production of the set was mounted several years ago, Marvel said.
Zachary Coates, who plays Giovanni opening night and Sept. 22, calls Marvel’s direction style “fearless.”
Most directors have an idea of what their show is going to look like, which determines the outcome of the final product.
But not with Marvel, said Coates, a vocal performance major at the Jacobs School of Music.
“It can be a little scary for some directors just because you never know what’s going to come up, but I think it’s an amazing way to put a show together,” he said.
Fulfilling “one of the big characters of literature and art” was scary for Coates, he said.
Coates played romantic leads before and worked with Marvel for “Albert Herring” during the 2011-12 opera season. He said playing Don Giovanni has been a surreal experience.
He saw the opera for the first time when he was 15 at the Santa Fe Opera House.
Marvel said he and Coates discussed how Coates could portray Giovanni as a sex addict who involves himself in dangerous situations.
“Zachary is a very visceral Don Giovanni,” he said. “He says hello by sucking on your neck. He doesn’t even say hello. He just goes right for it.”
Conductor Arthur Fagen, professor of music in orchestral conducting at Jacobs, said he has worked with Marvel three times.
Fagen, who has conducted several of Mozart’s most famous works including “Così fan tutte” during the last opera season said every audience member will relate to the show in a different way.
“Other people are going to be upset by somebody who is basically a murderer and a rapist, too,” he said. “Some people are just going to enjoy the beautiful music and just be entertained by this opera. People come away feeling different things from ‘Don Giovanni.’”
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