Don Giovanni Royal Opera House: A Don done with such impressive thought

By Stephen Pollard, February 7, 2014
Antonio Poli as Don Ottavio

Antonio Poli as Don Ottavio

Kasper Holten’s new production of Don Giovanni is unmissable. There’s not a scene that hasn’t been thoroughly thought through and not a character who hasn’t been dissected. That means a constantly rewarding intellectual challenge — such as the idea that, far from being helpless victims, Donna Anna and Zerlina are complicit in their dalliances with the Don. But all the many ideas come from within the opera, rather than the usual director’s whim.

Musically, it’s first-rate. Nicola Luisotti’s conducting is at once weighty, magisterial, exciting and fleet of foot.

All the principals are thoroughly immersed in their roles and there’s not a weak link, although, in truth, the riveting set offers the most real characterisation. The video screen which dominates the evening stays just this side of OTT.

Uniquely in my experience, the most outstanding performance is Antonio Poli’s Don Ottavio. Instead of the usual insipid and weedy cipher, Poli’s every note is beautiful and powerful.

This is not a production you’d want to live with, but definitely an interpretation that demands to be seen.

Last updated: 10:57am, February 7 2014