Opera Review: Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House

Revival of Francesca Zambello’s 2002 production is not without highlights but fails to fully ignite

Don Giovanni is the second of the Mozart/Da Ponte cycle; three operas composed by Mozart and written by librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte in the late 18th century. Based on this latest revival of Francesca Zambello’s 2002 production, fans of the trilogy should opt for one of the other two operas, Cosi fan tutti and Le nozze di Figaro, also playing at the Royal Opera House at part of its winter season.

In the title role Gerald Finley, fresh from seducing his way around Europe, gets things off to a lively start with the attempted rape of Donna Anna and more successful murder of her father. This starts a spiral of largely comic events that sees our lascivious anti-hero rub everyone up the wrong way.

A good Don Giovanni strikes the right balance between comedy and drama. But somehow as a whole, this three-and-a-half hour performance feels less than the sum of its assorted parts.

Even the flaming finale, when the wicked womaniser is dragged down to hell, is somewhat of a damp squib. At this dramatic moment the production really needed Marco Spotti’s Commendatore to be both more powerful and sinister in his damnation of Don Giovanni’s exploits.

The production is not without its highlights. The female leads, Hilba Gerzmava’s Donna Anna in particular, were all worthy of their considerable applause. And while the men were a little patchier, Matthew Polenzani’s Don Ottavio delivers a fine performance.

* Don Giovanni is at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, WC2, until February 29.