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Don Giovanni In Review

March 29, 2008

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    March 29, 2008
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    Opera Carolina News

Don Giovanni In Review

A successful Don Giovanni requires an accomplished, balanced cast, capable of handling comedy and tragedy — to say nothing of the vocal demands of Mozart's brilliant score. For Opera Carolina's production (seen March 29), general director James Meena fielded such a cast — one with no real weak link.

The women were particularly effective. Inna Dukach was an attractive and youthful Donna Anna. Her voice is somewhat lighter than what is often heard in this role, but she handled the vocal demands with aplomb, demonstrating considerable power when the thrust of the part required it. Caitlin Lynch, as Elvira, on the other hand, seemed appropriately worldly — wise and weary, though still fascinated by the nefarious Don — and her singing was effectively lyrical. Even given these two strong portrayals, the most enjoyable of the female characterizations was that of Malinda Haslett, whose Zerlina had just the right combination of minx and ingenue and was impeccably sung. It was easy to see why both Masetto and Giovanni found her attractive.

The men complemented their distaff colleagues. Myron Myers was a believable Commendatore despite the unnecessary amplification of his statue-voice. As Masetto, Krassen Karagiozov was a pleasant match for Zerlina, both physically and vocally. Victor Ryan Robertson was an unusually forceful Don Ottavio — this youth seemed quite capable of avenging his fiancée's wrongs. His singing was both controlled and attractive, making one regret that "Dalla sua pace" had been cut. "Il mio tesoro" was sung with dispatch, however.

But the total impact of any Don Giovanni production depends greatly on the singers playing the Don and his manservant. The demands of both roles were well met here, and the interplay between the two was convincing and believable. Stephen Morscheck'sLeporello was genuinely funny, as well as solidly sung. His catalogue aria was almost too effective, drawing applause before its conclusion. And the timorous nature implied by his name ("little rabbit") was exploited to great effect.

Even so, the anchor of the performance was the Don of Kristopher Irmiter. This was his first attempt at the part, and he will doubtless grow into it even more in future productions, but it was evident that he has all the requisites — dashing stage presence, acting ability and solid vocal technique. His voice has a bit of an edge to it that seems particularly appropriate for the machinations of the infamous Don, while being seductive when needed — as when he cajoled Zerlina and deceived Donna Elvira. This is a Don to be watched.

Chad Calvert's stage direction was straightforward and traditional, with many nice details, abetted by the baroque sets of Lawrence Shafer. And guest conductor Robert Lyall elicited a lively performance from the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Carolina Chorus.

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