In Review: In Pittsburgh Opera's Don Giovanni, a noir spin proves arresting, thought-provoking
"When serial womanizer and sexual deviant Don Giovanni meets his operatic demise, it’s impossible not to consider the parallels to some of opera’s real-life stars. In recent years, conductors, singers and musicians have been dragged down from pedestals, if not into hell then certainly into the court of public opinion after credible accusations of sexual impropriety have come to light… Jump now to Pittsburgh Opera, which opened its season Saturday with one of the all-time greats in the opera literature, Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In this production, director Kristine McIntyre reaches back through the centuries to yank the famous rake by the ear into the unglamorous, gray world of 1950s’ film noir, where the Don puffs cigars and leans on street corners and runs his own nightclub. This interpretation is a stroke of inspiration. The smoky writhing grays of the sets and costumes were a murky complement to the opera’s moral ambiguity, where no one escapes mockery and no one is entirely unrelatable… In this era of #MeToo, staging an opera about a serial womanizer is a tricky proposition. Some productions of Don Giovanni have leaned into the humor of Giovanni’s antics, which could be seen as trivializing. Some have emphasized Giovanni’s lesser qualities to cement the idea that he’s just a bad, bad man, but this isn’t satisfactory either as it causes his victims to appear either delusional or stupid when they aren’t. Ms. McIntyre has crafted a compelling retelling of the tale, infusing humanity and a dose of realism where outright moralizing would seem trite."
Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read full review.
"The sexiest show in town is not an R-rated movie. It’s a 232-year-old opera. Mozart’s Don Giovanni, at Pittsburgh Opera through October 20, sizzles with the intricacies and mysteries of love and desire. . . As you may know from the promo material, this Don Giovanni is done in film noir style. Costumes and sets are designed to place the action in a shady 1940s urban underworld. . . Throughout the opera, the film noir veneer is effective. It feels natural. No anachronisms clang dissonantly to muddy the mood. . . The whole thing comes across as a modern fable, soaked in dark-comic peril and fantasy—as it surely did in Mozart’s time, and as it certainly should today. . . The elements that make it work are the fundamentals: creative direction and stellar performing. . . the skillful stage director of the Pittsburgh Opera production, Kristine McIntyre . . . Don Giovanni is rich and intriguing. Bravo."
-Entertainment Central Pittsburgh
Read full review.