Don Giovanni - Review

The English National Opera’s production of Don Giovanni has lots of laughs but lacks soul, at the London Coliseum in St Martin’s Lane, WC2

THIS latest production of Don Giovanni for the English National Opera sets out to be a bawdy romp – and it never rises above that.

There is no trace of the charismatic seducer in Iain Paterson’s Don Giovanni – instead he is a sleazy, greasy bad-boy.

And director Rufus Norris’ whole production is sordid and down-at-heel – with characters in tatty modern-day garb, and Don Giovanni’s last banquet a grimy meal of supermarket bread on paper plates.

The net effect is to ram home the griminess of the protagonist’s excessive sexual proclivities – so much so that you come away feeling somewhat sullied.


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But while there are plenty of laughs (the witty English translation is really very funny) and some very clever set pieces – the spreadsheet of Don Giovanni’s conquests, with an unbelievable 103 notches on the bedpost for March to April, is a particular stroke of genius – the whole production feels somehow lightweight.

The treatment of Mozart’s music comes across as distinctly forgettable and the serious side of the tale, the damnation of Don Giovanni’s soul, is lost in the screaming and shouting – so much so that even when he is finally dragged into hell, you simply don’t care.

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All in all, it felt more like watching a sexed-up version of EastEnders than one of the world’s greatest operas - and that really was a shame.

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