Don Giovanni review at Peacock Theatre, London – ‘impressive singing’
Don Giovanni is a masterpiece, but, constantly shifting in tone and momentum, it needs skilful handling. James Hurley cunningly located his production for British Youth Opera in a soulless modernist hotel, some time in the 1970s.
There are moments of sleazy period glamour, but violence is never far away. Hurley traps the characters in the hotel foyer, the basement car park and Giovanni’s suite before dumping them in a chiaroscuro urban wasteland for the tricky sequence that opens Act II.
The action is smartly and coherently organised and the requisite laughs are generated by the charcoal-toned Leporello of Michael Mofidian, stealing scenes with his edgy comedy. He, like the entire cast, deliver the partially updated rhyming translation with crisp clarity (there are no surtitles).
In the title role, Jake Muffett is less angular – suave, soft-grained and charming, but a ruthless bastard. He is pursued by Samantha Clarke as the highly-strung Donna Elvira, singing with luminous, lyrical vibrancy, and Charlie Drummond as Donna Anna, spinning a steely, but lithe vocal line and properly traumatised by the murder of her father, the Commendatore.
Making ghostly appearances at some unexpected moments, he is intoned with magnificent sonorous warmth by Christian Valle. There is a gentle, but unfailingly firm heroism in the Don Ottavio of Adam Temple-Smith, while Lauren Joyanne Morris made a spring-fresh, but provocatively knowing Zerlina and Felix Kemp an unusually classy Masetto, phrased with elegance.
If Lionel Friend’s conducting tends to the measured rather than the mercurial, he always gives his highly accomplished young singers the space to take full command of their roles.