On 28th June, Mumsnet Ealing were delighted to be invited to the production of Mozart’s tragicomic opera Don Giovanni. It was our first time at the medieval Great Barn in Ruislip, and it was also the first professional production to be held there.
The Great Barn was originally built in 12 century and is part of Hillingdon’s gem, Manor Farm Site – flagship heritage and culture site set in 22 acres of beautiful grounds. This is a truly charming building and turned out to be quite perfect for this type of production. Before the performance and during the interval time, the audience were encouraged to have a picnic outside, Glyndebourne-style.
Presented by Opera Vera, it was a new touring production of Mozart’s dark comedy Don Giovanni, sung in Italian with English surtitles, and hot from its premiere at the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden.
For those who are not familiar, Don Giovanni (aka Don Juan) was a legendary fictional character – a nobleman and seducer. There are so many works around the world about him, and probably the best-known version is Don Giovanni, opera composed by Mozart in 1787 who commissioned Lorenzo da Ponte, then official poet to the imperial theatres of Austria, to write the book of words.
The plot – after years of womanising, breaking hearts and leading a reckless and lavish lifestyle, suddenly Don Giovanni runs out of luck. He fails to seduce society belle Donna Anna, kills her father, the Commendatore, and things get from bad to worse for him during the next 24 hours ending in his dramatic death.
James McOran-Campbell [Don Giovanni], without a doubt, has done justice to Mozart’s work. His debut performance at the Actor’s Church is described by critics at the Arts desk as ‘magnetic: a man possessed by a sexual energy that left him unable to function at normal levels of human interaction…terrifically exciting.’
James seems to understand his character very well (maybe even better than Don himself!) and his amazing energy indeed keeps us glued from start to finish. His character runs around committing crimes and telling lies but one cannot help but admire his presence and confidence.
Directed by Philip Hesketh (Royal Opera House), the talented cast is joined by orchestral players from The Brillig Ensemble. Admittedly, we are not the most enthusiastic opera-goers by a long shot but we know how it made us feel. The opening gave us goose bumps! And so did Donna Elvira’s final aria. Throughout the entire performance, there was an amazing chemistry and harmony between the actors and the orchestra.
Love, loss, life, death, power and anguish – the audience were put through all the human emotions possible, and the performance was very well-received indeed. The ovation spoke for itself!
It would have been nice to see more young people in the audience. The most expensive seats were £18 and under-18s could get tickets for just £5. Honestly, no excuse, folks!
We are looking forward to Opera Vera’s future productions and cannot wait to return to the Great Barn!