Special to Town Times by LARRY KELLUM
On Friday, May 3, the CT Lyric Opera closed its all-too-short 10th anniversary season with a well sung production of Mozart’s classic “Don Giovanni”, which will make its way to Middletown High School’s Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 11 at 730 pm. As always, opening night is always at New Britain’s Trinity-0n-Main, and is reviewed here.
This masterpiece, based on the legendary Spanish womanizer Don Juan, premiered in 1787 and has long been considered by musicologists to be “the perfect opera” from a composition point of view. It is not — its sheer three hour length and string of basically static (but gorgeous) stand-up-and-sing arias makes for too long an evening for today’s audiences. However, whose music should be cut — especially when most of it was as well sung as it was in this performance?
“Giovanni” is a bass-baritone heavy opera. and many singers throughout history (including a couple of this cast’s members) have sung two, three, or even all four of its lower-voiced male characters throughout their careers! Thus, it was a refreshing ray of sunshine to hear the sweet legato tones of tenor Christopher Lucier as Ottavio. There are also three sopranos in this, the most “ensemble” of ensemble operas, though the light, white, rather young voices of Heather O’Connor (Elvira) and Emily Hughes (Zerlina) could have used more of the darker mezzo tints in their lower ranges to make the former’s revenge tirades and the latter’s earthiness more palpable. Nonetheless, the quality and quantity of the work’s most difficult singing falls upon the vocal chords of its Donna Anna, and here the CLO’s resident diva Jurate Svedaite did not disappoint. As expected, she easily mustered up both the spinto thrust and the coloratura agility that her role requires.
As for those bass-baritones, the performance was dominated (exactly as it should be) by the title role (Luke Scott) and his sidekick Leporello (Nathan Resika). This was Scott’s first go at the rake, and predictably, he showed all the makings of a first-rate Don — suave and svelte, handsome, and well-steeped in the Mozart style. Resika, with a voice twice the size, was for once not an aging, pudgy buffo caricature, but a slimy and comical foil to his master.
Once again, maestro Adrian Sylveen vividly conducted his esteemed CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in their absolute specialty, which is this composer’s music.
For more information and/or tickets to the May 11th Middletown performance, please call 860-347-4887, or for the final performance at the Naugatuck Valley Community College on May 18th, please visit thevirtuosi.org or ctlyricopera.org.