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A good `Giovanni,' but Mozart had more passion

January 19, 2007|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

Opera Pacific kicked off its home season at Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Wednesday with a solid production of Mozart's "Don Giovanni." Unfortunately, most of the passion was in the pit with the Opera Pacific Orchestra, led by company artistic director John DeMain, and not on stage. Maybe things will get more lively during the four-performance run.

Barry Banks, as Don Ottavio, set the bar for stylish singing, giving an object lesson in Mozartean elegance and line in "Il mio tesoro" (Speak to me for my lady). DeMain chose to omit "Dalla sua pace" (Mine be her burden), Ottavio's other aria composed when the work was repeated in Vienna after its 1787 premiere in Prague. A pity.

Making his company debut in the title role, Wayne Tiggs looked tall, lean and handsome but exuded more power than sexual magnetism. He had a strong but monochromatic baritone, and was best showing anger and courage.

As Leporello, Andrew Gangestad matched Tiggs in terms of color, though he had a more crystalline edge to the voice. Except for the differences in their heights (Tiggs being taller), Leporello's impersonation of the Don was entirely credible.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 23, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
'Don Giovanni': A review of Opera Pacific's "Don Giovanni" in Friday's Calendar section misspelled the last name of singer Wayne Tigges as Tiggs.

Sopranos Ellie Dehn (Donna Anna) and Zheng Cao (Zerlina) sang endless, undifferentiated vowels and disregarded pesky consonants. This quickly tired the ear and made it impossible to understand what they were singing.

Jessica Jones, as a cliched pregnant Donna Elvira, didn't avoid shrewish, pinched extremes, although she made the role sympathetic as well as comic.

James Martin Schaefer was a solid Masetto. Stefan Szkafarowsky sang an imposing Commendatore, although his voice grew increasingly unsteady.

Director Chas Rader-Schieber had some interesting conceits. The best was Giovanni reeling at the sound of the stone statue's voice, evoking the greater power that will soon drag him down to hell. The most dubious involved Donna Anna's complicity in her seduction (nothing new in that), but as signaled by one of her red gloves that Giovanni kept and showed to her later, her outraged "discovery" of him as her father's murderer became a lie.

She was still thinking of Giovanni at the end, as she touched the remaining glove on her hand. At least that explained why she wanted Ottavio, her wimpish fiance, to wait another year before their marriage.

Lighting designer Lenore Doxsee drenched David Zinn's modular set and costumes (from all kinds of periods) in passionate red. But was it a postmodern necessity to see all the set pieces being maneuvered by costumed stagehands? Giovanni and Leporello's marveling when a hedge was pushed onto the stage through a door seemed a bit much.


`Don Giovanni'

Where: Opera Pacific, Segerstrom Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 and 27

Price: $27 to $200

Contact: (800) 346-7372

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