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So anyway,
Because what the Net really needs is another person sharing his uninformed views
Theatre review: Don Giovanni 
16th-Aug-2011 11:16 pm
I guess it's true about all publicity being good publicity, because despite the fact that the company OperaUpClose are now probably best known for their cavalier attitude towards things like health and safety, paying their casts, or actually being licensed to perform in public in the first place, they still get to pay a return visit to Soho Theatre where they had a big hit last year with La Bohème. The follow-up is Mozart's Don Giovanni, once again translated and modernised by Robin Norton-Hale, who directs. And again I can only review this as a piece of theatre not as opera since I know nothing about it: It sounded like opera singing to me, nobody in the audience threw rotten vegetables at the stage, so I can only assume all's well in that regard. There's still a dearth of actual fat ladies singing but there was quite a collection of bingo wings on show so at least an effort is being made to get up to the correct weight.

The setting is once again modern, theoretically some time before the Credit Crunch with Don Giovanni turned into Johnny the banker (Paul Carey Jones in tonight's performance) although this felt like bandwagon-jumping that's not followed through in any particular way - not even in Cherry Truluck's costumes, very noticeably when Johnny and his intern Alexander (Dickon Gough) are recognised as bankers at a bar because of the pinstripe suits they, er, aren't actually wearing. Truluck's set is also a bit odd - I liked the central table that extends into the audience but the variety of styles that are probably meant to be eclectic just look like she couldn't decide on a look for the show. Although I enjoyed more of the music this time (in my totally opera-uneducated way) I didn't think this production had quite the spark of originality that La Bohème had, most noticeably so in a half-hearted attempt to recreate the central coup de théâtre from last year's show. And while attempts to modernise the music work, the story doesn't fit well with a 21st-Century context - right from the start, the very idea that Anna (Elinor Jane Moran) would ignore her own rape and her father's murder by Johnny for as long as she does just makes no sense.

Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a version by Robin Norton-Hale is booking until the 17th of September at Soho Theatre.
19th-Aug-2011 09:06 am (UTC) - Fat-uous review!
Although I thought some of these comments were well-made vis a vis the design and overall concept of the show, your comment on weight and "bingo wings" tarnished any credibility you have as a reviewer of the theatrical art form that is opera. Despite the fact you did admit your lack of knowledge of the operatic world, I still feel that resorting to stereotypes as you did, shows no effort whatsoever to understand the world of opera. There is indeed a "dearth" of larger people in opera nowadays - this is because there has been increasing emphasis on not just vocal aptitude and stage craft but also on visual attractiveness and suitability for the part (particularly sopranos and tenors, who play lead romantic roles in many operas). I attribute this largely to changing audience tastes and the rise of live broadcasts from opera houses to cinema screens and DVD recordings etc.. In previous years, opera used to be a more distant art form but nowadays it is much more well-known and the art form and its proponent singers are very much more in the public eye and therefore subject to their whim. Audiences nowadays demand a more believable hero/heroine and in their minds, this means a man with a believably strong physique / swarthy looks or a lady with a slender figure and sweet face to go hand-in-hand with their respective characters. So whilst I, of course, accept that you still see some singers who over-indulge (although I would argue this in all industries!), this nowadays is very much the exception rather than the rule. You only have to look at opera singers such as Jonas Kaufmann and Daniele Denise to completely change your view of what an opera singer looks like! I enjoyed your review but perhaps in future, it might serve you well to research the art form you are reviewing slightly better than resorting to cheap and sweeping generalisations to get a laugh.
19th-Aug-2011 10:41 am (UTC) - Re: Fat-uous review!
It was, of course, more of a gag about the expression that the opera's "not over till the fat lady sings" rather than an implication of an obesity pandemic within the opera community, but thanks for commenting.
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