The character of Don Giovanni was inspired by the life of Casanova, the infamous Italian serial seducer and I was fascinated to read in the programme that it is very likely that Casanova himself attended the premiere of the opera in Prague in 1787.
This is a relatively long opera with only two Acts but not a minute is wasted by Director Sir Thomas Allen. The action is continuous with a great mix of drama and also comedy, in the asides of the Don and his servant and in the artful ways of Zerlina who shows us that girls can be every bit as naughty as boys.
The singing is sublime and is never overwhelmed by the orchestra, conducted by glamorous Italian conductor Speranza Scappucci in her Louboutin heels. There isn’t a flaw, it all fits perfectly – the lighting, the costumes, the Commedia Dell’Arte sceneshifters, the ghostly nuns and masqueraders. I’ve seen a few versions of Don Giovanni over the years but I think this is the best so far. (It helped that I had visited Venice for the first time this year and was captivated by the city and at long last my years of studying Italian are starting to pay off as I could understand most of the libretto without recourse to the surtitles!)
Despite some recent problems which include losing their new musical director after only a couple of months, the Scottish Opera Chairman is insistent that the company is in good shape and points to the success of this production which has seen record advance ticket sales. It all augurs well for the rest of the 50th anniversary programme, I can’t wait.