Sunday 2 February 2014

Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera, or, Is it possible to stage this work successfully?

This was my third staging of Don Giovanni. The two previous efforts were dismal: Tim Albery's Endless Pairs of Gloves version at Scottish Opera and Rufus Norris's confused attempt at ENO. Kasper Holten's new production for the Royal Opera is better than either of these but still left me increasingly unengaged and overall unconvinced.

The central problem with this staging is, it seems to me, that Holten can't quite decide (or at least fails to convey that he's decided) whether all the events and meetings described are really happening or whether they are figments of characters imaginations. This is the closest I can come to explaining why his attempt at the ending which should be chilling falls so flat. Up to that point, mostly, it seemed that Giovanni was really doing all the things he said, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he appeared to have some kind of psychological breakdown. I just wasn't convinced.