“It’s more Fun in Hell” says Don

The Don was back with a vengeance in Lucca opera’s production of Mozart’s classic dramma giocoso of seduction and hell-fire at Montecarlo’s Teatro degli Rassicurati last Sunday.

This time I’d booked well before hand and thus was assured of a more equable seat and not stuck next to the (very good) cello as I’d been for the first of the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy.

After seeing the Marriage of Figaro last month I almost gave Don Giovanni a miss since I’d seen a brilliant production of it last year at the oratorio degli Angeli Custodi in Lucca.

I’m glad I didn’t miss this production. It was equally, and in some respects, even more fascinating. Mattia Campetti proved in every way, as with Figaro,  that he was master of his material and produced an evening that was quite enchanted.

The reduced orchestra of six, authentically sanctioned in an arrangement contemporary with Mozart, soon made us forget it was not symphonic in scale and drove into the psychotic overture with panache – a quality it retained for the whole of the evening. As for the famous mandolin serenade when the don tries to get off with Elvira’s maid – the combination of harpsichord with pizzicato fiddle made a completely convincing mandolino sound.

This is a youthful person’s opera and needs all the chutzpah that emerging singers bring to it. The singing (and acting) that evening was full of brio and expression. I would single out the Leoporello-Don Giovanni partnership as outstanding. The women too were good (Zerlina, especially) but I felt that the Russian singing Donna Elvira should, in future apply her Slavonic warble, enchanting of its kind, to the operas of Tchaikovsky.

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(Act one finale)

Campetti’s production was marked with little strokes of genius throughout. I’d like to point out three of them:

Leporello’s catalogue aria was delivered with the aid of an I-pad and Facebook pages for each of the conquered females – absolutely necessary when one thinks that just the ladies seduced by the Don “in Spagna son mille e tre”!

The second was that, at the moment the aria from Figaro (originally first performed just one year before, in 1786) was quoted by the musicians in attendance at Don Giovanni’s’ banquet for the stone statue, Leporello picked up a poster from Opera Lucca’s own production of Figaro in May with a truly quizzical expression.

The third stroke of genius was after the curtains went down over the dragged-to-hell libertine. They opened up again, after the final chorus, delivered from the side boxes, to reveal an orgiastic scene with the Don being pampered by naked lascivious ladies of pleasure while quaffing generous quantities of Chianti (or was it Morellino di Scansano?)

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So is it more fun in hell? It was certainly more fun being at Montecarlo’s delightful little theatre that evening than anywhere else on a Sunday night in the Lucchesia, not just for me but also for the loudly applauding and cheering audience at the conclusion of a performance of a Don who’d won the affection, not just of all those petticoats, but also of the enthusiastic public.Well done all concerned and I take my hat off (if I had one) to both director Mattia Campetti and conductor, Jonathan Brandani, Lucchesi di cuore!

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And (wow) Così fan tutte is next – this August!

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2 thoughts on ““It’s more Fun in Hell” says Don

    • I nearly wasn’t – you know, slightly tired and a typically late Italian start – but it’s given me the impetus not to miss these little wonders.

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