UTAH LYRIC OPERA ENSEMBLE AND PARADIGM CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, DON GIOVANNI, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Feb. 17; second performance 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, tickets at the door
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni holds up well no matter how it is done. The music sparkles exquisitely and the libretto is sophisticated and witty. It’s a gem of an opera that never grows old, no matter how often one has heard and seen it.
This weekend Robert Breault’s Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble and Joel Rosenberg’s Paradigm Chamber Orchestra join forces for an abridged concert version of Mozart’s timeless opera. As with their past collaborative ventures, this is once again a fortunate pairing between some exceptional young singers and some solid instrumentalists.
Rosenberg is on the podium and Breault narrates, offering continuity to the shortened production (most of the recitatives and several of the arias have been left out). The performances are double cast with the exception of the title role, which Daniel Tuutau sings both nights.
Breault has assembled a strong group of singers for Friday’s performance (and Saturday’s performance will no doubt be equally as wonderful). Those in the opera ensemble not singing leads either night have been recruited to be the chorus. (They sit in the hall with the audience.)
Tuutau gives a vibrant account of the lascivious nobleman. He has a lyrical and well modulated voice that allows him to bring a wide ranging palette of expressions to his singing. Hearing him one can readily understand how it is that he can so easily woo and captivate women.
Matthew Castleton brings credibility to the role of Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant and chronicler of his seductions. He has a rich voice with power where needed, but it’s always tempered with beautifully crafted expressiveness.
Both Julia Wentz (Donna Anna) and Heather Madsen (Donna Elvira) have exceptional voices. They sang Friday with conviction and authority; the expressive qualities of their voices were well suited to the music.
As Zerlina, Chelsea Lindsay was a delight; she brought depth and feeling to her characterization.
But it was Andrew Maughan as Don Ottavio who almost stole the show from everyone else. He has a clean, pure tenor and his “Il mio tesoro” was beautifully phrased and delivered.
Merrill Flint and Charles Hamilton were in fine vocal form as Masetto and the Commendatore, respectively.
The Paradigm Chamber Orchestra played well and Rosenberg’s tempos were well chosen, allowing the music to flow naturally.