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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)

REVIEW

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.

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