Opera Review: "Don Giovanni" tackles labors of love


There is no doubt that Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” ranks up there as one of the greatest operas of all times. The Los Angeles Opera’s production at the Music Center did justice to the masterpiece with a wonderful youthful cast that could act.

Mozart, with his great librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, offers a taste of love in all its aspects—romantic, transiet and humorous. At the center of the proceedings is Don Giovanni himself, played with daunting flourish by Ildebrando D’Arcangelo. Slight and graceful, D’Arcangelo is easily believable as an unremorseful roué. His love is strictly for himself.

The three women in the cast all have their lives impacted by the nobleman. Donna Anna, played with dark intensity by Julianna Di Giacomo, has been the victim of an attempted seduction. Her father, The Commendatore, has been killed by Don Giovanni as he tries to protect his daughter. Donna Anna disdains the love of her fiancé in order to seek vengeance.

Donna Elvira, a pathetic figure, is truly in love with the don in spite of his lying and infidelity. Soile Isokoski gains sympathy as she sings beautifully of her infatuation. The third woman is played deliciously by Roxana Constantinescu. As the peasant girl Zerlina, who almost gives in to the don’s seductive lies, she is sexy and charming. In spite of temptation, she is true to her husband-to-be, Masetto.

A most important role is played by the don’s servant, Leporello, famous for his “catalog” aria in which he recites the numbers of his master’s conquests. David Bizic is terrific in the role, making the most of the humorous aspects, but with an undercurrent of sadness at his lowly station.

Don Ottavio, as Anna’s fiancé, is always a little nerdy but he sings two of the greatest love arias. Andrej Dunaev has the tenor voice to handle them.

Ievgen Orlov is forceful as The Commendatore who has the last word in an exciting finale to the opera. Joshua Bloom is also excellent as Masetto. Although Seville is represented in a bleak set by Ferdinand Wogerbauer, it matters not. The gorgeous music and lovely singing make this an unforgettable evening. James Conlon, leading the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, can do no wrong.

Gregory A. Fortner deserves kudos for his directing. It takes skill to arrange the actors when there are all kinds of memorable ensembles, from duet to octet. Mozart has mastery over ever nuance.