Mad Men Meets Mozart in Utah Opera’s “Don Giovanni”

The+Opera+Don+Giovanni+performed+at+the+Capitol+Theater+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah+on+Thursday%2C+May+11%2C+2017.+%28Rishi+Deka%2C+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

Rishi Deka

The Opera Don Giovanni performed at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Holly Vasic

The Utah Opera will perform a creative take on Mozart’s classic drama “Don Giovanni” May 13-21 at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theater.

The opera is a dark, dramatic comedy about a mischievous man, Don Giovanni, who is the typical player; seeking women to seduce only to leave them as the game begins again while outwitting anyone who gets in his way. Stage director, Kristine McIntyre, transforms this 17th century opera for today’s audience by using the genre of noir to tell the story; think Mad Men meets Mozart. Retro costumes, some from local Salt Lake shops, and imaginative use of light and shadow fill the stage, bringing the 1950’s era to life.

Giovanni, played by Joshua Hopkins, wears a sleek vintage suit as he serenades the audience in the opening number. This contrasts the devious undertone of the opening scene where he is taking advantage of Donna Anna, played by Melinda Whittington, and murdering her father, the Commendatore played by Richard Wiegold. Giovanni then finds a past lover, Donna Elvira, played by Caitlin Lynch, wailing over her lost love. He is quickly caught between Elvira and Zerlina, his newest prey. Zerlina, played by Sara Coit, has only one flaw: she is taken. In fact she is about to marry Massetto, played by Mark Read.

McIntyre modernizes this show with her Mad Men-esque noir era. This is done incrementally with small moments such as Giovanni’s nightclub where he lures an unsuspecting couple and their entire wedding party. This is just one example of the creative innovations of this production of “Don Giovanni”. Throughout the opera Donna Anna, Elvira, Zerlina, Mossetto and other characters seek revenge on Giovanni after he hurts them or those they love. But don’t worry. This show ends with a twist you have to see to believe.

In fact the greatest twist of all might just be the likability of Giovanni himself. In spite of Giovanni’s many flaws he is an enduring and relatable character, just as McIntyre intended, “we gotta like the guy, we gotta be on his side in a weird kind of way,” she explains. The content of the opera is not intended for all audiences. McIntyre clarifies “it’s got some violence in it… it’s got some sexual content, but it’s Utah so we didn’t go that far…” The show is sung in traditional Italian with English subtitles, making following the storyline effortless.

“Don Giovanni” will be performed May 13, 15, 17, and 19th at 7:30pm and May 21 at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased via www.usuo.org from $20 to $91 depending on selected seats.

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