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Your Reaction: Don Giovanni 2015

What did you think of Kasper Holten's production of Mozart's tragicomedy?

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

13 June 2015 at 7.50am | 26 Comments

Press reviews:
Londonist ★★★★
Bachtrack ★★★★
Music OMH ★★★★
What's on Stage ★★★
Express ★★★
Arts Desk ★★★
Times (£) ★★
The Stage ★★
A Younger Theatre (Positive, 'full of visual spectacle')

What did you think of Don Giovanni?


By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

13 June 2015 at 7.50am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Kasper Holten, don giovanni, Production, review, Social Media, your reaction

This article has 26 comments

  1. Barbara Younis responded on 14 June 2015 at 7:50pm Reply

    Well, here's another KH production I will not bother to see again. Why is DG living in a 1970's youth hostel - all cheap wood, and not a mirror in sight. Why was the graveyard scene presented as nothing more than slapstick comedy? And why was it considered a good idea to have DG go to hell whilst sitting on the front-steps to his house, and then theatrically lunge to the front of the stage? And why on earth did they cut the final sextet???
    As for the singers, Maltman was good but not sexy enough - in fact, given the choice I would much rather have given my hand (et cetera...) to Da Pierro's Masetto. Esposito was best by a very long mile, both vocally and characterisation. The ladies were okay. But Villazon should really stop singing opera.

  2. Brendan Quinn responded on 15 June 2015 at 12:18am Reply

    Once the set had spun around 3 or 4 times it became simply boring. Some ideas worked well like the list of the Dons triumphs written up in script. Thank goodness the singing was good, I don't like the loss of the ending. On the whole, not a memorable evening and audience not buzzing afterwards. wouldn't return to this production.

  3. Christopher Prentice responded on 16 June 2015 at 12:59pm Reply

    There are so many perverse productions that I would not wish to see a second time that now I don't waste my time and money seeing them for the first time either. Ironically the ROH is putting on an exhibition of Julia Trevelyan Oman's work. So good, apparently, that after La Boheme (apart from the good old Royal Ballet) all her superb productions will have been ditched. Her Eugene Onegin was exquisite in every way. One could believe that the characters had stepped out of Pushkin's pages. Three progressively ghastly productions later we now have a production that is conceptually and visually garbage.

  4. Timothy Newton responded on 17 June 2015 at 9:03am Reply

    Bravi tutti to the singers who were left to 'pull off' another performance with little sensitive help from a conductor who led a mannered and yet anonymous reading. Tempi were rarely comfortable, either too fast or too slow, revealing the Maestro's lack of vocal understanding. There were serious rhythmic issues among various poor sounds emanating for the usually stellar pit. Notable violist gaff when they misread the conductor's double preparation beat. Gestures didn't reflect the essence of the sound at specific moments in the score. And why the baton if you insist to play the recits?! Mozart didn't use one! Maestro Altinoglu's reading is a mannered musical symphony with vocal accompaniment, one for which the pit is a poorly captained lifeboat for well-studied professional principals who are adrift and, at times, swimming for their lives. Please don't have him back.

  5. Yoshino Shirota responded on 17 June 2015 at 9:23am Reply

    I was shocked to see the final sextet cut off. I felt like they assaulted Mozart. Then I went through the 'justification' on ROH's website. When they say there is no 'moral' in Vienna's libretto, did they check if the prologue and epilogue are always printed? I think until the Romanticism arrived, it followed the tradition of the plays to end with a 'moral'. Well, they are free to do what they want to but I still do not agree. As for the singers, I was quite disappointed with Mailman. His Pappageno was good, so I was expecting better than what I saw. The young conductor, doing in a traditional way of playing himself for the recitative was nice. The ladies were good, but, in a whole there was something not quite right. And, a few times the orchestra catching up desperately the singers, or vice-versa. Maybe it was the result of KH's idea and the conductor's clashing?

    • Timothy Newton responded on 18 June 2015 at 11:16pm

      The problem with the out and the stage has to do with a conductor not able to lead the pit so as to catch the singers. Ask any conductor. That's the job; accompany singers with an orchestra. The singers in this production aren't to blame.

  6. Marco Roma responded on 18 June 2015 at 12:31am Reply

    I m shocked to read some comments ! I m Italian, I travel everywhere and listen to a lot of performances. I heard many Don Giovannis and I think that Altinoglu is one of the greatest opera conductor I ve ever heard ! I found his reading very interesting and personal and the orchestra played wonderfully for him yesterday . The cast is very good too I think , and impressive when they have to run and walk in this set ..I didn't understand how the projections work when the house turns? The projection shouldn't stay on the walls ?? Very well done from the stage director. The idea that Giovanni staying alone at the end is the worst thing that can happen on earth...not sure :)

    • Marco Roma responded on 19 June 2015 at 2:37pm

      Of course the singers are to blame! Only Leporello sang in tempo and connected to the pit. The singers were totally undisciplined and it's a shame for Mozart..but I don't think Timothy has enough knowledge to understand that ( even if he knows very well a singer :) ).
      Altinoglu many times saved the evening catching and accompanying very well the singers ..with an other conductor , it would have been a total disaster ! You catch singers in Puccini, Verdi, Wagner..Mozart is different ..singers have to follow too!! I ll be back for the last show :)

  7. Marco Roma responded on 18 June 2015 at 8:57am Reply

    Why did you delete my message?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 18 June 2015 at 9:00am

      Dear Marco

      Your message was not deleted - all comments on the blog are held in moderation until they have been checked by a member of the team.

      Best wishes


    • Marco Roma responded on 18 June 2015 at 9:42am

      Oh thx Ellen, I didn't know :) best wishes

  8. Maria responded on 21 June 2015 at 9:03am Reply

    I really don't understand the comments here - perhaps people enjoy being critical for appearance's sake (look at my cool and contrary opinion!)? To opera newcomers, please don't be put off by the negativity here; I thoroughly enjoyed the production last night - the set was spectacular, and I felt everyone put on a great performance (especially Alex Esposito - new favourite character in Leporello!). Congratulations to everyone, and thank you for a fantastic Saturday night at the opera! I look forward to my next visit.

  9. Joanna Pratt responded on 21 June 2015 at 9:27am Reply

    As a not particulalry musical person I found the whole thing stunning because of the staging and the projections reflecting the mood of the opera. This enhanced my understanding of the music. Well done for a feast for the senses.

  10. Lucy McCaul responded on 21 June 2015 at 11:20am Reply

    First the positives. Top of the list must be Christopher Maltman's scorching hot perfomance, superbly sung and acted. In fact the cast was uniformly excellent the singing and acting wonderful throughout. Now, I'm afraid, for the negative. I found the reworking of the plot with it's cuts and deliberate mistranslation of the libretto actually quite offensive, particularly the recasting of Donna Anna as complicit in her seduction and, therefore, a liar who actually cares so little about her father's death that she will (it was strongly implied) stop off for a quickie with the murderer she has just unmasked. Zerlina crying rape was just as bad, did the director have such a hard time believing that a woman might be seduced by a man then learning more about him be repelled? The decision to make Leporello a "ghost" in the last act just seemed peverse as was the bending of the libretto to fit. So superb performances but not a production I shall ever want to see again

  11. Helen responded on 21 June 2015 at 4:00pm Reply

    I had a pleasure to watch and listen Don Giovanni Saturday night. Excellent cast and fabulous staging. For my taste, Albina Shagimuratova was just phenomenal. I never heard such a great Donna Anna. And I heard a lot. Christopher Maltman and Alex Esposito seems having fun signing together. Donna Elvira also has good voice and stage presence. It's superb performance. I will come back and see again.

  12. Antoinette Davies responded on 21 June 2015 at 7:12pm Reply

    What a stunning theatrical performance of Don Giovanni on 20 June. My niece who had never been to an opera before was mesmerised. It was an emotional and vibrant performance. Congratulations to everyone involved.

  13. Colin Baker responded on 21 June 2015 at 9:30pm Reply

    Poor performance of a dire production. Even the orchestra seemed to be playing as individuals. The singing was mostly unexciting with too much stand and face front. The ensembles seemed under-rehearsed. But the production was unspeakable. Was it a breach of Trades Description Act to call it Mozart's Don Giovanni? If this is the future Direction at ROH, count me out.

  14. Lucy McCaul responded on 21 June 2015 at 10:26pm Reply

    I appear to have mistyped it's instead of its, apologies

  15. Dorothy Bertola responded on 26 June 2015 at 11:39am Reply

    I wonder if I've just seen the same opera that others are describing. OK this was my first DG but I thought it was amazing. I thought the staging was genius. I thought the singing was amazing, in particular three women. I saw Albina Sgagimuratova as Queen of the Night and there she knocks spots off all three of my recordings. I loved her crystal clear but rounded voice and I loved Julia Lezhenava who made my spine tingle. The ensemble singing was something else. Fantastic!!! Thank you?

  16. Achyuta Nori responded on 26 June 2015 at 8:42pm Reply

    This was a very dark Don Giovanni. Albina Shagimuratova was thrilling as Donna Anna and Christopher Maltman was an awesome Don Giovanni. The staging with the projections made it a surreal experience- I was spellbound ❤️ Absolutely loved it!

  17. Loge responded on 3 July 2015 at 10:58pm Reply

    I saw this Don Giovanni four times (once last year and 3 times this year) and I can summarize as follows: boring, useless production that totally lacks sense of humour and "theatrical spirit". Fortunately the cast was great with stunning singer / actor Alex Esposito being BY FAR the best, followed by an excellent Albina Shagimuratova. Pity that Rolando Villazon cannot sing any more. Altinoglu is a good conductor. This production will be on tour in Japan in September with the same cast with the extra "gift" of Joyce DiDonato singing Donna Elvira. I hope Kasper Holten will stay in London and let his cast do their job without any further disruption. In any case, music apart,this production will be soon forgotten.

  18. Nicholas Hewlett responded on 3 July 2015 at 10:59pm Reply

    What a sumptuous and intriguing production! The action in front of an undisclosed house with doors to what rooms? Secrets? Hidden souls? Bluebeard's Castle? The projection was very clever. At times I did not feel it was Mozart at all: too many roses, and not enough bones; too much at ease. Wonderful wonderful singing. The Don needs more space to move around; the Commendatore was remote at the end, and the Don was still in the house of misdeeds that he had built. We wanted a good dragging off to hell!

  19. Marius Kociejowski responded on 4 July 2015 at 10:46am Reply

    This is an utterly soulless, joyless production, the singers, for the most part, miscast, and yet another instance of how directors seem to have got it into their heads that they are superior to the audience. It need hardly be said that the whole point of the opera has been missed but perhaps that was the intention, to steer the audience away from unpalatable endings, especially those that offer resolution, which is why, presumably, the sextet was removed. Mozart, in this respect, apparently fails to chime with the times. Directors have been asking their audiences to wake up. May I, as part of the audience, as someone who has loved opera before the recent wave of directors, Kaspar Holten included, were born, ask them to wake up.

  20. Tom responded on 4 July 2015 at 9:32pm Reply

    The singers and conductor were excellent, especially Albina and Rolando.
    The production was pitiful. Monochrome with a few trendy projections and in the end it went round and round so many times I thought it was a fair-ground. The ending was not a patch on previous productions.
    Sadly, yet another new uninteresting production that I will not see again but there are still fabulous singers out there.

  21. Jean louis Melchioretto responded on 6 July 2015 at 9:38pm Reply

    J'y suis allé pour Julia et d'elle je n'ai pas été déçu elle a ravi ses fans et tout l'auditoire.Elle donne vie jusques aux récitatifs. Tout l'environnement s'est donné de la peine mais on s'est quand même un petit peu ennuyé.En fait on n'est jamais rentré dedans car rien nous y a emmené, ni les chanteurs (hormis Julia) ni la mise en scène, ni l'orchestre, ni le directeur ; pourtant les effets vidéos étaient superbes et surprenants.
    De plus notre Don Juan meurt (enfin) et se fait illico applaudir, on s'étonne et voilà que l'on nous sucre la fin. Après tout cela valait peut-être mieux...

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