Royal Opera's Don Giovanni - reviews of Mozart opera

Feb 5, 2014

An ingenious staging of Mozart's comic melodrama makes for a dizzying but unforgettable evening

What you need to know

A new production of Don Giovanni, staged by the Royal Opera House director Kasper Holten, has opened at Covent Garden to positive reviews. Mozart's 1787 opera with a libretto in Italian is based on the legends of the fictional seducer Don Juan. 

Mozart blends comedy and melodrama in this tale of Don Giovanni's odyssey of sexual conquests across Europe accompanied by his patient servant Leporello. But when the libertine commits murder, he triggers a supernatural revenge. Runs until 12 February.

What the critics like 

In Holten's "meticulously" directed Don Giovanni the staging is exceptionally thoughtful, the pace is sure, and the "characterisations and relationships are sharply but subtly drawn", says Rupert Christiansen in the Daily Telegraph. Es Devlin's handsome set and some captivating singing make for an invigorating evening.

Holten's direction is "assured", says Michael Hall in The Independent. There's an atmosphere of French farce to the dizzying to-and-fro of gorgeously-costumed figures passing through virtual-reality doors, but the drama gains steadily in force thanks to the beauty of the singing and the ingenious set. 

Holten's new staging of one of the trickiest of all repertory pieces is "a genuine success", says George Hall on The Stage. Visually this is a fascinating evening with a set conjuring an infinity of Escher-like spaces and while not always readily explicable it is invariably resonant and thought-provoking.

What they don't like

Veterans of Don Giovanni should find this production penetrating, though "first-time goers may be as lost in the maze as half the cast are", says Neil Fisher in The Times. This production is so loaded with ideas and imagery that it feels like three shows in one, but like an encounter with the Don it's very hard to forget.

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