Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don Giovanni: Metallic Junk; Check. Devils; Check. Swarm Of Dancers; Check. Oh - And Music.

You have to give the English National Opera credit for going out on a limb. Their new production of Don Giovanni from Rufus Norris, an award winning theater director, is clearly "out there." This is his first attempt with opera.

However, it is generally not being well received by critics or the public at large. The review we have linked here is one of the more "polite" ones we have seen.

The problem seems to be the staging of the production and Norris taking great liberties with the original material, which in turn distracts from the music. ENO productions are in English, and this particular production includes a "new" English translation which has been described as "wonderfully irreverent."

There seem to be some bright spots with some of the performances, and this Don Giovanni challenges the audience in many ways. But, according to reviewers, clunky staging, clothing removal, wrecked train sets and other embellishments were distracting.

Is Norris' approach good for opera? We can't answer that. But it poses a good question: To what lengths should a company go in order to attract a new audience or re-invigorate an existing one?

Fresco asks that question daily.

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