Opera Scotland

Don Giovanni 1832De Begnis Italian Opera Company

Read more about the opera Don Giovanni

During this visit by the de Begnis troupe, less than a year since they had left, Don Giovanni seems to have been very popular. The season opened with two performances, and it was brought back for the last night as well. There are several notable features about this line-up. De Begnis himself, a famous comedian, was a natural choice for Leporello.

However the title role is a far more interesting piece of casting. Domenico Donzelli was, to begin with, not a baritone at all, but a tenor, and a famous one at that. The previous year he had created the leading role of Pollione in Bellini's Norma at La Scala. He  would sing that part again  a few months later at its London premiere. It is likely that this Mozart role must have required some upward transposition of its lower extremes (a common enough practice at the time), even if, as seems probable, his voice had, with maturity, developed a darker, more baritonal timbre. The operatic literature seems to suggest that he began his career singing the light coloratura tenor roles of Rossini's comedies and Neapolitan works, before changing to a more obviously heroic vocal style. And yet only a couple of days after singing Don Giovanni in Edinburgh he came on stage as Almaviva in The Barber of Seville - just the kind of role he should have dropped.. He must have been a remarkable artist.

The Donna Anna, Joséphine de Méric, is also an interesting singer, of good reputation. She had appeared in London as Bellini's Juliet, definitely a lyric soprano role. In 1833 she was Adalgisa in that Norma with Pasta and Donzelli - at a time when Adalgisa was seen as a role for light soprano, rather than the mezzo we have generally become used to. Yet in The Barber of Seville she sings Rosina - perhaps an indication that as soon as fifteen years after its premiere the role was already being usurped by voices rather higher than the near contralto for which it was composed.

Cast details are as advertised and reviewed in the Caledonian Mercury.

It seems likely that the company played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during a four-week stay, giving twelve performances, of which seven have been found advertised in the Caledonian Mercury (no cast details for Figaro). The evenings so far confirmed, interspersed with performances by the resident theatre company, were as follows: Tue 27 Nov Don Giovanni; Thu 29 Nov Don Giovanni; Sat 1 Dec Barbiere; Tue 4 Dec tbc; Thu 6 Dec Barbiere; Sat 8 Dec Nozze di Figaro; Tue 11 Dec Otello; Thu 13 Dec Otello; Sat 15 Dec Figaro; Tue 18 Dec tbc; Thu 20 Dec Fanatico per la musica; Sat 22 Dec Don Giovanni.

Performance Cast

Leporello Giovanni's servant

Giuseppe de Begnis

Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter

Joséphine de Méric

Don Giovanni a young nobleman

Domenico Donzelli

Commendatore an elderly aristocrat

Signor Galli

Don Ottavio engaged to Anna

Signor Arigotti

Donna Elvira a lady from Burgos

Miss Phillips

Zerlina a peasant girl

Miss Waters

Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina

Signor Giubilei

Performance DatesDon Giovanni 1832

Map List

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

27 Nov, 19.30 29 Nov, 19.30 22 Dec, 19.30

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