Last night I participated in Madison Opera’s Blog it! Tweet it! night for Don Giovanni. I was among several area bloggers and social media enthusiasts who were selected to watch a dress rehearsal and then tweet and blog about the experience. We started out by going on a backstage tour and then got to watch the final dress rehearsal.

I was joined by:

Chris Lay
@MrChrisLay
http://mrchrislay.tumblr.com/

Mary Ellen Spoerke

Writes about rats; will now write about the rat Don Giovanni.

Jeff Turk
@frescoopera
http://frescooperatheatre.blogspot.com/

Geoffrey Cubbage
http://misanthropology101.wordpress.com/

Mikko Utevsky
The Well-Tempered Ear Guest Blogger

When I was preparing for the show, I wasn’t sure how I was going to enjoy the show. The show begins with Don Giovanni raping a girl and then killing her father. And yet, this was called a comedy?!

It was an incredibly fun show and Don Giovanni does get his in the end. Justice prevails! All and all, it was a fun romp with some great music. Time never lagged and I thought the ensemble did an excellent job.

What impressed me most was that at no time did I question why the actors were singing. That might seem like an odd observation. It’s an opera, of course they were singing!

Yes, but the actors made it seem like it was only natural that they communicate in song. When doing any kind of musical theatre, the idea should be that they only way you can communicate such strong emotions is by singing. Talking doesn’t cut it. And with this cast in this production, I believe that they needed the music to communicate. That’s no easy feat. Too many times I have gone to an opera that has felt more like a concert than a story. This was not the case with Don Giovanni.

I could go on and on about all the little details that I loved, but you have better things to do than read my exhaustive study of Madison Opera’s Don Giovanni, so instead I am going to focus on two of my favorite elements: the set and why I didn’t hate Don Giovanni.

Sets

The sets (and costumes) were brought in from Virgina Opera. The most striking element of the set was the large mural of the rose in the back and how they used lighting to change the look and mood of the different scenes.

Ignore everything in these sub-par pictures except the coloring of the rose.

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Isn’t that just gorgeous???

I love minimalist sets and love, love, LOVE when lighting is used so creatively. I think lighting is one of the most important yet most under appreciated theatrical element. I thought this production did an excellent job of using lights.

Don Giovanni

Photo courtesy of James Gill

Photo courtesy of James Gill

I was also determined to not like Don Giovanni, but with Kelly Markgraf playing him, well I couldn’t help myself. And it wasn’t just because he was good-looking and for the record, I did not feel compelled to throw my bra at him like one of Blog It! Tweet It! counterparts (cough, Mary Ellen, cough). There was something sympathetic about the guy.

He reminded me a lot of another pop culture womanizer who is hard not to like.

image from ign.com

Yes, I think Barney and Don Giovanni could be great friends.

Don Giovanni goes after women with such determination and focus, you almost have to admire it. He was like a bloodhound constantly on the hunt. As he and his servant are walking in the square, he catches the whiff of something, “I smell a woman” he tells Leporello and lo, behold, a woman appears.

Later in the play, when Leporello asks him if he loves women so much, why does he act like such a scoundrel to them? He replies: To be loyal to one is to be cruel to all. And you can tell that he means it with all of his heart.

When he seduces Zerlina, it is truly a seduction and not a rape. She may be engaged to another man but she is tempted by Don Giovanni.

courtesy of James Gill photography

Photo courtesy of James Gill

If we didn’t know better, we would be too. Lucky for Zerlina, Elvira, Don Giovanni’s thwarted lover, intervenes and prevents the young girl from making a mistake.

We never actually see Don Giovanni succeed in seducing a woman. We are catching the ultimate ladies man on a bad day, ending of course, with him going to Hell. I won’t say that you feel bad for Don Giovanni, especially given his atrocious behavior during the final feast where he throws food all over the stage and treats Leporello, his servant, abominably, but you don’t necessarily cheer at the end. Except maybe when he inexplicably rips his shirt off as the ghost takes him away.

My Experience as a Blogger

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It was very odd to be watching a show and being encouraged to be on our phones. We all enjoyed tweeting during the show and snapping pictures with our mobile devices, but I think all of us spent the first 20 minutes nervously looking over our shoulders, afraid of being “caught”. There weren’t many people in the theatre so we were also encouraged to try different seats. My pregnant feet loved sitting in the box.

The show flew by and it was exciting to feel like we were part of the action. There were times when the show was stopped and they redid an entrance or cue, but that only added to the excitement.

What You Need to Know

There are two performances of Don Giovanni:

Friday April 26th at 8:00

and

Sunday April 28th at 2:30

For more information about the production, tickets, and other upcoming Madison Opera events, check out their website.

And here is what you can expect when you go:

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I can also vouch that the show went by fast and was well-paced. If you go, I would love to hear what you thought!

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Have you ever been to the opera? I would love to hear about your experience (or lack of experience).

 

 

 

 

 

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