DON GIOVANNI (Canadian Opera Company). To October 31. 416-363-8231. See Continuing. Rating: NN
Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte's Don Giovanni can survive silly productions, uneven singing and sluggish conducting.
But the opera about the philandering cad (Brett Polegato), his put-upon servant, Leporello (Robert Pomakov), and the various women and men he tries to bed or trick during an eventful 24 hours should never be dull.
Somehow the Canadian Opera Company's revival of its 1992 production manages to bore. It's not entirely director Robin Guarino's fault. She's saddled with Jorge Jara's coolly Modernist set, which, with its modular arches and hidden-door columns, feels more like a gimmick than a backdrop. His costumes borrow from various periods to no point.
I'm all for fresh approaches to classics, but the innovations here aren't developed. Donna Anna's (Jessica Muirhead) first-act lust and participation in her own father's murder are soon forgotten, and the climactic scene, imaginatively playful though it is, makes little dramatic or musical sense in this context.
In a cast of mostly Canadians, Polegato and Pomakov successfully bring out the subtleties of their characters, but of the women only Virginia Hatfield's sweet-voiced Zerlina is memorable. A stronger director could have tightened up the drama. And a stronger conductor than William Lacey could have made the magnificent score soar rather than plod along, square and familiar.