Glyndebourne – Don Giovanni

Well, Hastings Battleaxe missed all the celebrations marking the 950th anniversary of the Hastings Battle, but sorry dears, we had booked to go to Glyndebourne, this time to see Don Giovanni. It was part of our 30th Wedding Anniversary festivities…

This is from the 2010 production, but it gives you the idea….

      You may remember that this time last year we saw the most fantastic production of Saul, which converted us to the Glyndebourne experience.  We knew that this year’s effort was not going to be as mind-blowing – it is a revival of a 2010 production which got mixed reviews.
      This year, we made more effort with the picnic business, as the outing was part of our wedding anniversary celebrations. (The actual anniversary day was Tuesday,  not quite as festive as it could have been as I had the monthly WI meeting in the evening).  Anyway, we had champagne, M&S goodies and actual plates.  However, we are still but primitive picnic novices.  Check out this table next to us. Candelabra and all. Two men set it all with infinite care, even put the smoked salmon on the plates, and then vanished…. Where? Why?

Check out this picnic

       Don’t let’s forget that this is only the second level Glyndebourne, the tour. What on earth must the picnics be like at the main festival?
       So, the production. Well, it was good, but not mind-blowing. We both very much enjoyed it, and it has not put us off the Glyndebourne business, but it did have flaws.
       Moment of nerdiness. Mozart wrote two versions of this opera, Prague and Vienna. Modern audiences are used to a mostly-Prague hybrid, with substantial chunks  cut out. This production was of the full Vienna score. Most of the reinstated passages came in Act II, and goodness, did they drag out the action.  All operas (in my view) have a few boring interludes. Why bother reinstating further dull material?
        The Glyndebourne tour is designed to showcase young singers.  The young bloke playing the Don had a good voice, but was not old enough, and did not have enough stage presence for the role. Rather than the world’s greatest ever seducer, he looked like a fraudulent double-glazing salesman selling over-priced windows to old ladies. Mille e tre? Non.
        Oh, the things you find on Google. Turns out the bloke, Duncan Rock, played the Don in a gay version of Don Giovanni at Heaven night club a few years ago. Apparently he is regarded as a ‘Barihunk’… Well, never mind his vests and his pecs, he still didn’t cut it for me.

Duncan Rock as Barihunk alternative Don Giovanni

         Donna Elvira was very good, as was Leporello.  Zerlina had a good voice and was an excellent actress.  The Commendatore, again, was not heavy-duty enough, and instead of being the usual terrifying statue, he was a floppy Halloween zombie-corpse.
         The last scene between the Don and the Commendatore, and his descent into Hell, should make your hair stand on end, but it was more like boss of double-glazing firm, en route to the office zombie fancy dress party, berating the salesman for not meeting his targets.
        Here’s how I imagine the scene – Peter Mattei as the Don from the Met in 2015.  Yes, I know the staging for the tour has to be simple, but even so…

New York Met, 2015

       They also threw food onto the stage floor, and when Donna Anna entered, she slipped right over in it and had to be helped to her feet by Donna Elvira and Don Ottavio. Dears, it was like being back in the White Rock Theatre.
        The setting was sort of late fifties – some nice clothes for the women, but the set was a rather rigid box thing. In my view it didn’t allow the cast enough scope to move around the stage.
         Not many photos I’m afraid – you are not allowed to take photos in the auditorium, but I snapped this from the sur-titles board. Daily Mail? Horrors? Surely at least the Telegraph…

         Driving home, we encountered the most amazing rain storm – literally, we could scarcely see the road.  Must have been a bit difficult for the Hastings Bonfire and procession, but I gather it was dry for the fireworks. One day, we’ll get there….
         This is the first of two blog posts this week – I have another, on Hastings Old Town antique shops, almost ready.
         At the end of the week we are off on holiday for two weeks – a cruise to the Middle East. Yes, I know, are we cruise people? Don’t know, have never been on one. I’ll let you know. Middle East? Yes,  I know. We’ve made our Wills…..
         Here’s a new picture of the production – Zerlina and the Don – hot from the Glyndebourne site:


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