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Don Giovanni Went To Hell And All I Got Was A Lousy T-Shirt

Another show done and gone. But not before I had to get up early on Sunday and help strike the set.

Thankfully, I had company. (Like Production Intern Extraordinaire Andrew in the background there, likely doing something extraordinary.)

Assistant Stage Manager Erin, who is not, btw, rolling up toilet paper here. This is the ribbon from the may pole in Don Giovanni.

Set, schmet. I came to think of this platform as my personal dance floor. Recits are always good for crumping.
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Deconstructing Giovanni

I was starting to write a post today when my handler Lisa literally pushed me aside. With the pent-up angst that could only belong to a former English major, she declared, “I’m writing the post today; I’ve been doing some thinking.” (Translation: I don’t have enough minutiae in my life to analyze, so I’m going to extend it Don Giovanni.) I’m indulging her, so here ya go:

Don Giovanni is One Bad Dude. That much is clear. But unlike other Bad Dudes central to a story (i.e. Don Draper of Mad Men), the opera Don Giovanni doesn’t ask us to delve into why he is so bad. It’s not because his parents abandoned him or a love lost permanently scarred his heart. No, he is just bad–and he has no compunction whatsoever about it.

This opera is not about Don Giovanni. It is about the characters and world around him. Director John Hoomes meant for the production to offer up Don Giovanni as a mirror to those around him. His blatant sexuality serves to liberate the other characters’ true feelings.

I feel the production challenges us to consider the validity of the superficial moral parable. Is he dragged to hell because he will not repent his sins? Or does his descent represent the other characters’ inability to accept the true feelings Don Giovanni elicits from them, and they must bury him in defense?

We can add to our interpretation(s) by considering the context in which Don Giovanni was written. Mozart wrote the opera during the Enlightenment, which advanced the rejection of convention and church, valuing the primacy of the individual. Don Giovanni stands up for himself, but society cannot handle it.

Don Giovanni opens the door not just to hell but to our minds.

Ok, that’s enough out of her. But some interesting points to ponder, I admit. Do some deconstructing of your own–we’ve got one more performance this Saturday night.
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Monday Miscellany

*yawn*
I’m still recovering from a weekend of opera–and the celebrating that ensued. But it’s nice to wake up to a good review, and that’s just what I did on Sunday.

Among other kind words about Don Giovanni, Plain Dealer reporter Don Rosenberg writes:

“Hoomes’ observations often are so intriguing and funny, the stage pictures so enchanting – the contrast between modern designs and period costumes works well – and the musical values so strong that the splendor of Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s achievement comes leaping from stage and pit.”

Read the full review here.

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It’s Monday, and I know what you do on Mondays. You take ample YouTube and FaceBook breaks. We’ve got some YouTube-esque videos up at Fox8. We gave our Don Giovanni cast a camera, and, surprisingly, they didn’t give it back to us with anything above a PG rating. (They call themselves opera singers! Pshaw!) Between what they captured and some footage from our Meet the Cast event, the videos give you a glimpse at the singers’ lives.

Check out the videos here. (They are along the right-hand side of the page.)

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Singer and Oberlin student Cree Carrico came to our opening night. She’s still busy blogging here. I daresay I chuckled at the title of her most recent blog: The most terrifying two words in the English language: musical theatre.

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Reminder to Wagner fans: There’s a Wagner Symposium this coming weekend in Canton. Learn more here.
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Eye And Ear Candy

Settle down. I’m not belittling our singers’ immense talent by referring to them as “eye candy.” (Though they are all attractive people.) I mean that our production of Don Giovanni is a visual snack. It’s intriguing, at times stark but more often vivid. But the striking visuals also leave ample room for your imagination to wander.

Here’s some photos by Eric Mull that offer you a glimpse into Don Giovanni:

Let’s call a spade a spade: Don Giovanni is a slut.

Yes, Alyson Cambridge (our Donna Elvira) knows that she looks like Vanessa Williams. But Alyson sure as heck sings better.

Leporello ascends the stairs to nowhere–or is it somewhere? Oh, the potential for interpretation in this opera!

(They really wanted to get the Stair Car from Arrested Development, but it wasn’t available. Apparently it had an appearance to make at Ron Howard’s birthday party.)

Does our production feature women encased in giant pantyhose? Yes, yes it does. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I told you he was a tramp.

See more photos here.
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Wake Up and Smell The Opera

We have been rocking the morning airwaves this week (or digital transmissions–whatever.)

First, Dean and Director John Hoomes were on WKYC’s Good Company yesterday. Then Alyson Cambridge was featured on the show today. (Click the links to watch!)

This morning, I got up with the chickens (people wake up when it’s still dark??!) and went with Dean to WDOK, where he helped judge wannabe opera singers on air. Here he is hanging out with Terry, Jim and Trapper Jack.


Wednesday, tune into Around Noon on WCPN. Janinah Burnett (Donna Anna) and Jonathan Boyd (Don Ottavio) will be singing and Dan Polletta will interview them, along with Dean.
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Backstage Pass

I know, I know. You want scrumptious photos of our cast on stage, fully costumed and fully in thrall of Mozart. Well, don’t get your panties in a bunch–I will show you some shots of our production. LATER.

Now, I expose the gritty underbelly of opera–BACKSTAGE. (insert ghoulish gasps here.)

Stage Managers should strike up a deal with Crayola or Pantone. Their work boxes are filled with rainbows of products–Post-its, tape, highlighters. In theater, everything has a place–and a color.

The requisite singer-getting-made-up-before-the-show photo. Here is Scott Conner, aging from 25 to 60 in under an hour!

How you doin’?

Note: these hors d’oeuvres are not edible. (No matter how long you’ve been at rehearsal.)


The natural habitat of the Great Googly Moogly, a pet of the venerable Kish. GGM accompanies her to the theater for each production.
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Here We Go Brownies!

I think what the Browns need is a little opera.

Let’s hope some of the Opera Cleveland chorus can inspire them to victory this Sunday, Oct. 25, when they sing the national anthem at the start of the game.


We can hope, can’t we?!
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Speaking Easy

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hungover still from last night’s GO!, Generation Opera, Launch Party at SpeakEasy bar. Eh, I’m probably in good company.

I was certainly in good company last night.

Doug Collier and Susan Wagner–obviously delighted by my appearance. (Or awfully good actors.)

Nikki DiFilippo is the gal that made it all happen, helped by Kimberly Hist.


I enjoyed chatting with Amy, Jennifer and Dennis (actually I had the most fun listening to the verbal ping pong match between Amy and Dennis.)

There’s some more photos that I’ll post later on. ‘Til then, it’s not too late to get up and GO! (heh, see what I did there?) There’s a Taste of the Season luncheon Thursday, Oct. 29 at the Club at Key Center. Check it out. I’ll be making a special guest appearance.
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Oot Woot

There’s a new kid on the NE Ohio opera blogging block (uh, so now there’s two of us?).

Oberlin Opera Theater, or OOT as I like to say, has turned out many a great singer (including Alyson Cambridge, our Donna Elvira), and now they’ve turned out a great blogger, too. Cree Carrico–a singer who is starring in OOT’s upcoming Cosi fan tutte–has begun blogging here.

So far, she’s provided vivid and eloquent descriptions of meeting and watching singer Denyce Graves and a whirlwind trip to New York City, where she saw Aida and Tosca at the Met.

She writes: “Controversial Tosca? Stay on the edge of your seats and check back later this week to read my review, “‘If only they had Tosca on the team!’”

I’m definitely gonna check back to see what that is all about.

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Opera Smackdown: Giovanni Vs. Leporello

At the Meet the Cast event Saturday, I found out tons about our Don Giovanni cast (e.g. one of our singers, without fail, eats a tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread along with a banana before every performance.)

Robert Gierlach, our Don Giovanni, has played the role about 85 times, but he’s also played his fair share of Leporellos. Matthew Burns, our Leporello, has likewise sung both roles.

Matthew mentioned a New York Times article that compared the two bass roles. So, of course, I looked it up first thing this morning. It asks the question ‘which is the better role?’

There’s definitely some psychological probing going on. Could Leporello just be Giovanni’s alter ego–the manifestation of what Giovanni could be if his id didn’t get in the way so much?

“Don Giovanni isn’t Casanova but a superman,” singer Marco Vinco says. “He exists on a different plane from ordinary people. His element is mystery. He lives to conquer God, feeling neither love nor pity nor guilt. Leporello is exactly the opposite: a simpleton, a nice guy who feels all the human feelings.”

Director Peter Sellars gives his take: “In the end the transformation of Leporello is what the opera is about. Giovanni is static. He never learns a thing. Leporello goes through the whole range of emotions Giovanni is cut off from. He’s a feeling, thinking person.”

Ok, so maybe the article doesn’t answer the question it poses, but it does offer great insights into these characters. One thing is clear about the opera: Leporello and Don Giovanni cannot exist without each other.
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