Monday, March 16, 2015

Don Giovanni lives!

There is nothing even remotely retro about Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni.  Neither the music nor the plot gets old in this Hit Parade top ten of operas currently performed.   
So when the InSeries adopted a new setting, with the libertine noblemen re-incarnated as a 1920’s American religious revivalist,  the music and the story line were sure to work.  Other “collaborations” of composers and modern producers —despite centuries apart—have worked well in the past.   
But more than that, the InSeries production underlines that the plot of this opera is still very much with us.
Who to believe: the charismatic preacher who is a serial rapist: his diary of conquests is not unlike the files of the newspaper clippings of their victims or other trophies that police uncover that predators keep.  Or  Sister Elvira, a deserted woman:  Is she a mad stalker or a victim who no one will believe?   Then there is Sister Anna whose father has been killed by Don Giovanni who was trying to seduce her —is she a victim who does not want to testify because it will bring more pain or is she an unreliable witness who did not get a good look at her assailant?  
Sung in English, set in the great age of American evangelism, it suggests another infamous character— womanizing Elmer Gantry who also enjoyed his bootleg.   Televising evangelists as well as predatory clergy and rabbis - sort of ironically but  somehow expectedly—continue to fill the headlines.  
When Don Giovanni croons a pleading “Pretty Baby” :  Oh, have we not been charmed with that song line  before!   
There is some adjustments to the story line.  The staging is minimal but works to engage the imagination to a super ending of the eternal flames of hell perfectly— the revival tent has two mouth like gates, one with pearly whites to enter heaven and the other with fangs as befits hell.   
The stellar cast pulled it all together—what we love about this opera in an excellent performance.  While being true to the comic and the tragic mix in situations, there are  twists  that add up to a surprisingly very modern opera.  
Bottom line:  Don Giovanni—another production by the InSeries which proves that great music is never out!
The newly commissioned English adaptation  of Mozart and DaPonte's Don Giovanni  is by DC writer Bari Biern and Stage Director Tom Mallan.  Music Director and conductor Stanley Thurston lead a chamber ensemble.  The cast: Andrew Thomas Pardini as Don Giovanni, Alex Alburqueque as Leporello, Randa Rouweyha as Sister Anna, David Brundage as the Pastor (Commendatore), Daniele Lorio as Sister Elvira, Aaron Halevy as Ottavio, Laura Wehrmeyer Fuentes as Zerlina, Sean Pflueger as Masetto, with Nicholas Carratura, Melissa Chavez, Kenneth Derby, Chris Herman, Teresa Ferrara, Elizabeth Overmann. The design team: Stefan Johnson, Elizabeth McFadden, Sehar Peerzada and Brian J. Shaw. 
THE IN SERIES  Mozart’s Don Giovanni
WHERE: GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC WHEN:  March 14 -March 23, 2015
TICKETS: 202-204-7763 or visit or inseries.org.