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Review of Don Giovanni at the TF Royal Theatre
By Eamonn Horkan
29, Mar 2007 - 13:56

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This production of Mozartís "Don Giovanni" by "The English Chamber Opera" was a considerable achievement. Scaling down an opera of this magnitude is no easy task, but director Caroline Sharman and her design team have managed to make it seem as though the opera was written for such cosy, intimate settings, rather than for the much grander setting of the National Theatre in Prague, where it premiered in 1787.

The scaling down has not been without some sacrifice musical director Igor Kennaway felt that the overture, for instance, would not translate well from full orchestra to ensemble and piano. But any losses are more than compensated by the greater degree of intimacy between cast and audience, making it instantly more accessible than is often the case in larger opera houses. David Crook's new translation may grate a little with purists, especially as its 21st-century language is somewhat at odds with the 17th-century setting, but it is, nonetheless, full of wit.

Leading the cast is the charismatic baritone David Durham, whose imposing stage presence, powerful voice and enormous energy combine to form a near-perfect portrayal of the lust-crazed Don.

David is no stranger to Castlebar having performed on many occasions with the Mayo Male Voice Choir and at Mass on Christmas morning in the Church of the Holy Rosary. David has a holiday home outside Castlebar where he spends every opportunity while rehearsing, between engagements in operas and film through the year.

He was matched in ability by Giles Davies, who fully explores the comic opportunities of Leporello, Giovanni's reluctant sidekick, and whose strong, melodic baritone voice is the most beautiful of the entire cast.

Three exceptionally fine sopranos Sarah Moule, Rebecca Cooper and Beverley Worboys sing powerfully as Donna Anna, Donna Elvira and Zerlina respectively, Peter Wilman sings lyrically as Don Ottavio, and Ian Jervis as the Commendatore with Ian Jervis as Masetto.

This raunchy production was perhaps not for the prudish, but for anyone looking for an evening of compelling entertainment, it was an absolute treat and an outstanding success with an audience of over 900. The reception from the attendance was overwhelming with standing ovations, which went on for over five minutes.

Our congratulations to the Castlebar Lions Club and the T.F. Theatre for this opportunity to enjoy this wonderful event and we look forward to the future.

Opera is back in a big way in the West and patrons can look forward to the Opus 1 production at the T.F. Theatre in October of "The Barber of Seville".

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