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A CurtainUp  Berkshire ReviewDon Giovani

Barbara Shirvis as Donna Elvira

A comedy that begins with an attempted rape, a tragedy that's full of laughs -- that's Mozart's version of the immortal seducer who philanders himself straight to hell. It is considered his greatest operatic achievement.

It's nice to see the high libido lecher get his just dues -- but of course, the real thrill is in the glorious music. With a few reservations about the staging, the Berkshire Opera Company's Don Giovanni is once again cause for celebrating the presence of this still young company in the Berkshires.

The cast of this Don Giovanni is uniformly outstanding, both in terms of voice and stage presence. Stephen Powell brings a magnificent bass tenor voice to the womanizing central character. Bass baritone Philip Cokorinos is an especially winning Leporello. Lyric tenor Benjamin Brecher is a handsome enough Don Ottavio to out-seduce Don Giovanni though he is in fact Giovanni's opposite --a devoted and understanding lover. His singing is consistently fine. Rachel Rosales is Donna Anna who, guilt stricken about her father's death after a duel with Giovanni , keeps delaying her marriage to Don Ottavio. Rosales and Brecher are well matched, even if her big vengeance aria isn't quite on a par with his "Il Mio Tesoro".

The other two two Donnas caught in Don Giovani's net have gorgeous voices. In a case of art imitating life, soprano Barbara Shirvis's Donna Elvira, who has the closest thing to a longterm relationship with Giovanni, is visibly pregnant. Other Donna Elviras have "faked" this evidence of her being "wronged" but Shirvis's pregnancy is the real thing (she's Mrs. Stephen "Giovanni" Powell off stage). Pregnancy has in no way diminished the richness of her voice, nor does it seem to hamper her movements. Ariana Zuckerman, who has appeared in several BOC productions, gets better all the time. She's a charming and vocally exciting Zerlina and has a fine lover in baritone Bradley Greenwald. Gustav Belacek makes a strong showing as Commendatore.

Except for the unplanned casting of the pregnant Donna Elvira and the inclusion of a child as one of Giovanni's victims appearing in his ominous hell-bent visions, director Robin Guarino has opted for a straightforward interpretation. The staging is rather dour and one-dimensional and the blocking of the actors' movements on the static side, lacking the excitement of the BOC's previous Mozart opera, The Magic Flute (Our Review). As in the past a harpsichordist at the side of the stage lends musical support and Joel Revson ably leads the Camerata orchestra.

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Director: Robin Guarino
Conductor: Joel Revzen
Cast: Don Giovanni: Stephen Powell
Leporello: Philip Cokorinos
Donna Elvira: Barbara Shirvis
Donna Anna: Rachel Rosales
Zerlina: Arianna Zukerman
Don Ottavio: Benjamin Brecher
Masetto: Bradley Greenwald
Commendatore: Gustáv Belácek
Scenic Designer: Norbert Kolb
Lighting Designer: Michael Lincoln
Stage setting, courtesy Virginia Opera
Costumes: Malibar, Ltd.
Super titles by Cori Ellison (originally created for New York City Opera) Running time: 3 hours and 15 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission
Koussevitzky Arts Center Berkshire Community College 297 North Street Pittsfield, MA 01201 Tel: (413) 443-7400 - Fax: (413) 443-3030 Berkshire Opera Web Page
Perfomances: August 19, 24, 26, 31, and Sept. 2 at 8 pm August 21 and 28 at 2 pm

Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based onperformance

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