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Don Giovanni: Contemporary, cutting edge opera

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Contemporary, cutting edge opera

Opening on 18 September, New Zealand Opera’s third major production for 2014 is Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It has often been called the greatest opera ever written, and is certainly one of the most popular. Directed by New Zealander Sara Brodie, this production debuted in Christchurch last year, returning grand opera to the city after a six year hiatus. Now it is the turn of Wellington and Auckland to experience what the Sunday Star-Times called “a thrilling evening of music and theatre”.

“Here for a good time, not a long time” might well be the motto of Don Giovanni, one of opera’s greatest villains, who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of pleasure. In the vein of Don Juan and Casanova, this hedonistic nobleman cannot resist attempting to seduce any woman who crosses his path. His fate, however, is sealed when he kills the father of one of his conquests.

Those who have come to expect from NZ Opera superbly acted drama woven with the world’s best music will not be disappointed. Set in Libertino’s, a contemporary Spanish nightclub, this highly entertaining re-imagining of the 18th Century opera retains all the essential elements of comedy and cataclysm. “It’s really edgy and exciting” says director Sara Brodie. “It has a street feel, a very modern feel.”

The most dangerous and sharp stilettos are those on the feet of the fiery females who foil, or fall for, the dishonourable intentions of the swaggering Don Giovanni. “You get sucked in by his great vigour and joy for life,” says Sara Brodie, “but at the same time his behaviour is despicable.”

British baritone Mark Stone, whose Don Giovanni so seduced Christchurch audiences, will be partnered this time by audience favourite, and previous Rigoletto, Australian Warwick Fyfe as the loyal and long-suffering, but complicit, Leporello. Wellington-based Australian Lisa Harper-Brown returns to sing Donna Anna along with some of New Zealand’s finest singers: Anna Leese returns from her home in Tuscany to reprise a feisty Donna Elvira, Jud Arthur is home from Australia to play the cursing Commendatore, and exciting young singer Amelia Berry has temporarily abandoned New York to play bride-to-be Zerlina. Freemasons Resident Artist Robert Tucker is Masetto, and Jaewoo Kim, who last sang with NZ Opera in 2006, in the title role in Faust, joins the cast as Don Ottavio.

Sparked with the pastels and bright colours of costumes conceived by Elizabeth Whiting, the ominous and anarchistic set visioned by John Verryt cleverly serves the beauty of Mozart’s romantic, lively and always tuneful music. NZ Opera’s mercurial Director of Music, Wyn Davies, conducts the production which also features the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington and the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus.

DON GIOVANNI by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

A New Zealand Opera production

Sung in Italian with English surtitles

Conductor WYN DAVIES
Design Adaptation JOHN VERRYT
Lighting Designer JEREMY FERN

Don Giovanni MARK STONE
Donna Elvira ANNA LEESE
Don Ottavio JAEWOO KIM
Commendatore JUD ARTHUR

Accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestra Wellington
Featuring the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus

Auckland – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
18, 20, 24, 26 September 7.30pm; 28 September 2.30pm

Wellington – St James Theatre
11, 16, 18 October 7.30pm; 14 October 6pm

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

NZ Opera Box Office: Tel 0800 NZOPERA (0800 696 737) or
Auckland: Ticketmaster, Tel 0800 TICKETMASTER (0800 111 999) or
Wellington: Ticketek, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or
Christchurch: Ticketek, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or
*Booking fees apply

New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand and Auckland Council through the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act

Further details, interviews and dramatic production images available through NZ Opera’s media associates, Spotlight Creative Media: Michael Hooper (021) 940 893. Chris Swannell (021) 594 007.

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