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A fantastic embarkation and wonderful launch, but Oliver Platt’s Don Giovanni loses steam

Full steam ahead: For Don Giovanni (Ashley Riches, left) as he tries to abduct Donna Anna (Lauren Fagan) with the help of Leporello (John Savournin)


Don Giovanni

Investec Opera Holland Park

SINCE the three heroines in Don Giovanni come from the upper, middling and lower classes, Oliver Platt’s idea to set his production of Mozart’s opera on a glamorous 1920s liner is a stonkingly good one. Class barriers are firmly in place right from the superbly choreographed embarkation sequence, and the differences between Donna Anna’s silken luxury lifestyle, Elvira’s second-class berth, and Zerlina’s steerage circumstances are depicted with wit and detail on Neil Irish’s wonderful set.

It mostly sounds great too. Conductor Dane Lam offers crisp, fleet-footed support to the heroines, who are all top-notch. With her authoritative, full-throated sound Lauren Fagan makes a near ideal Anna, while Victoria Simmonds’s luscious mezzo and Ellie Laugharne’s fresh bright soprano are both ear-caressing. If Ashley Riches (Don Giovanni) isn’t quite as seductive as he might be his baritone has plenty of power, and John Savournin displays a warm voice and terrific comedic stage skills as his sidekick Leporello. Ian Beadle is a charming Masetto too.

Can you feel a ‘but’ coming? After an engaging launch, the docking proves messy. Platt doesn’t give much oomph to the mistaken-identity plot of Act 2, and the climax — the Don’s descent to hell — is underwhelming and confused, with a whole raft of directorial interventions which haven’t been properly prepared. Why does Nosferatu the Vampire suddenly make an appearance? Your guess is as good as mine.