Opera Scotland

Don Giovanni 1989Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Don Giovanni

The programme for the 1988-89 season of Scottish Opera opened with the company's first production of a work by Tippett, Midsummer Marriage. The other new productions were Fledermaus, Rheingold, Don Giovanni, Oedipus Rex, Traviata and Street Scene. The revivals were Magic Flute, Iolanthe, and Bohème, In the autumn the previous season's Richard Jones Così fan tutte, redirected by Tim Hopkins, went out on the medium-scale tour. There was also a small-scale, piano-accompanied tour of Don Carlos, so far Scottish Opera's only attempt at this work.

The company had recently encountered problems with several attempts to stage Don Giovanni, a notoriously difficult piece to get right. The young Swede Göran Järvefelt was an extremely intelligent and successful director whose work generally combined simple elegance with dramatic power. He worked frequently with Welsh National Opera on a range of pieces such as The Magic Flute, A Masked Ball, Der Rosenkavalier and The Ring. Apart from three performances of that Flute staging, when WNO visited Glasgow, none of his work had been seen in Scotland, so it was a sensible decision to import his successful production of Don Giovanni from the Norwegian Opera.

An excellent cast was assembled and all the omens seemed good. The tragically early death of this director was a great loss to the operatic world. It also meant that this series of performances had to be pulled together by Scottish Opera's in-house staff. The absence of the master's guiding hand was clear, and rehearsals must have been difficult.

Inevitably, even though it was musically strong, with generally fast speeds set by John Mauceri, the production lacked the dramatic conviction that had been expected. The stage - essentially a courtyard -  was monochrome, uncluttered and clear, with little inessential action, or humour. It was dominated by a coffin, and gave an essentially bleak view of the work. The leading cast members - notably Jonathan Summers' nasty Giovanni and Jane Eaglen's majestic Anna - sang superbly, and were dramatically convincing, but only in a fairly generalised way. However they still gave a great deal of pleasure, and there were certainly no vocal weaknesses.

Cast details for the first run are from the programme in the OperaScotland collection. The spring continuation in May and June is as listed in the season brochure, and is subject to confirmation. Valerie Masterson was originally announced for Anna, but withdrew due to illness, and no Giovanni was listed. Further tour dates (Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh) also to be added.

Performance Cast

Leporello Giovanni's servant

Jan Opalach (Feb-Apr)

Curtis Watson (May-Jun)

Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter

Jane Eaglen

Don Giovanni a young nobleman

Jonathan Summers (Exc Apr 4, 6)

Jason Howard (Apr 4, 6)

Commendatore an elderly aristocrat

Oddbjørn Tennfjord (Feb-Apr)

Mark Glanville (May-Jun)

Don Ottavio engaged to Anna

Glenn Winslade

Donna Elvira a lady from Burgos

Kathryn Bouleyn (Feb-Apr)

Jane Leslie MacKenzie (May-Jun)

Zerlina a peasant girl

Judith Howarth (Feb-Apr)

Claire Daniels (May-Jun)

Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina

David Marsh

Performance DatesDon Giovanni 1989

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Feb, 19.15 11 Feb, 19.15 16 Feb, 19.15 18 Feb, 14.15 4 May, 19.15 6 May, 19.15 24 May, 19.15 30 May, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

21 Feb, 19.15 24 Feb, 19.15

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

28 Feb, 19.15

Apollo Theatre | Oxford

7 Mar, 19.15 10 Mar, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

4 Apr, 19.15 6 Apr, 19.15

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