It’s been an operatic week in mid-August. There was Opera Wednesday, then on Thursday I went to The Elixir of Love at Point Loma Opera Theatre, and on Saturday night I caught Don Giovanni presented by Opera Neo.
Viva la liberta
I have been hearing good things about the Neos but haven’t been to a one of their summer festival shows since 2012. Back in 2012 the performance was a series of scenes from various operas. Things have changed since then.
What I saw on Saturday night was a fully staged, nearly uncut production of Don Giovanni with chorus and orchestra. It was impressivo.
The production was updated to the present day. It’s a smart move as it makes the show more relevant in some ways and for sure saves on the cost of costumes. Characters can pretty much wear their own wardrobe. Not only does it make fiscal sense, I’m sure the singers are more comfortable in their own clothes than the tights and pantaloons of a traditional Giovanni production.
The venue was outdoors at the amphitheater of the Palisades Presbyterian church in La Mesa. Since the performance was outdoors the production was microphoned. I’m not sure how the attendance was at the previous performances but the one on Saturday was basically sold out.
The singing of the cast was consistently excellent but difficult to gage in the outdoor setting with the microphones. This was the first time I’d heard a full opera production with microphones and I’ll admit it takes some getting used to. At least it did for me.
Bernardo Bermudez, in the title role, gave us a deliciously degenerate Don. Bermudez did not shy away from Don’s more lecherous moments but gave us a full helping.
Don Giovanni is a bad guy, but bad guys never believe that they are bad, except for Iago. Iago believes in an evil God and all that mess. Don Giovanni believes in everything he does and might even consider himself a liberator (viva la liberta), but in the end he is an abuser of power and position.
Some things never change. I can think of at least one public figure who considers himself a liberator, but some of us aren’t too sure. His name is also Don.