Vancouver Academy of Music
Mozart's Don Giovanni
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island
June 11-14, 1998
Don Giovanni --Poetry Without Passion
by Lori Sherritt
It was clear that the students of the Vancouver Academy of Music, Opera Studio rehearsed diligently to bring this project to fruition--the singing and orchestra were next to impeccable, if not inspirational. Don Giovanni is a story about rampant passion, seduction, revenge and the demise of a man as he succumbs to his nemesis. As an all round production, it left a few pieces of the pie unattended. There was not a great deal of character development and often, other than through costumes, it was difficult to distinguish between cast members. While the vocal committment was strong, many performers lacked the physical vigour and committment needed to keep the audience rapt. They did not speak with their bodies, they, (with the exception of characters such as Donna Anna, played by Sonja Verena Nicolai, Donna Elvira, played by Melissa Peabody, and Zerlina, played by Angela Latham), left their voices to convey the scope of emotion rent by the ravishers and the ravished.
Don Giovanni himself was a little disappointing. Although his words may have been sweet and sensual, my senses were not aroused. I did not "get" a sense of yearning or craving or fear for this man as his physical vocabulary did not reflect the prowess one would expect of such an archetype.
The spectacular nature of the plot was not neglected. With the appearance of the statue in the second act, it was indeed easy to be transported to the original milieu of the opera. One could envision the candle lit stage and the shock of the aristocratic audience as the spectre hung over them.
The exceptional elements of this production of Don Giovanni were the singing and the orchestra. I do suggest, that in preparing for next year's production, that the academy hire an acting coach to eke out the finer elements of characterization. This small addition would make a much more convincing project.
(Lori Sherritt is a local actor, writer, and teacher who has studied across the globe at places such as the Gaiety School in Dublin, Ireland. She has performed in Canada, Ireland, France, Australia, Norway and the United States. This fall, she will be running a new children's theatre company called the Sunny and Share Collective)
Copyright 1998 Lori Sherritt