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Good But Not Great 'Don Giovanni' Opens Dallas Opera Season

by Olin Chism 24 Oct 2010 12:45 PM

The Dallas Opera is opening its season with a reasonably good, if not great, production of “Don Giovanni.” The Don’s slight vocal flaw is counterbalanced by a generally fine cast.


The Dallas Opera is opening its season with a reasonably good, if not great, production of Don Giovanni.

The one flaw is, unfortunately, in the role of the Don himself. Baritone Paulo Szot had a persistent slight vocal wobble on Friday night that became wearisome by the end of the evening. Otherwise, he performed well. He looks and acts the part of a randy rogue.

His one departure from tradition comes with a bit of touchy-feely in one episode. Director John Pascoe adds a baby to this production. It’s Donna Elvira’s and — obviously — Don Giovanni’s. The Don holds the baby tenderly at one point. Not what you would expect of him.

The most impressive among the other cast members — an excellent lot overall — was Mirco Palazzi as Leporello. His first entrance was a surprise. He is slight of stature, and you just don’t expect such a deep, booming voice. He was a delight throughout, both vocally and dramatically.

Filling other roles in this fine vocal ensemble were Claire Rutter (Donna Anna), Georgia Jarman (Donna Elvira), Jonathan Boyd (Don Ottavio), Morris Robinson (Commendatore), Ailyn Pérez (Zerlina) and Ben Wager (Masetto).

Nicolae Moldoveanu led a spirited performance by the Dallas Opera orchestra, though coordination between the pit and the stage slipped occasionally.

Pascoe’s designs are quasi-surrealistic. Unusual elements include bedsteads suspended in midair, long sheets hanging overhead, rivets in steel walls, flocks of randy women pursuing Don Giovanni, clergymen in periodic processions, and pistols to supplement swords in fights (the pistols win).

Unusual, but nothing truly damaging to the spirit of the opera. Two things that really worked were the graveyard scene and the Don’s final encounter with the Commendatore. Spooky.

Don Giovanni will continue (though not daily, of course) through Nov. 7. Donizetti’s Anna Bolena will begin alternating with it on Oct. 29.