Spanish harem

Posted on 28 Oct 2010 at 7:17pm

History’s most notorious womanizer gets his just desserts — as does the audience — in Dallas Opera’s sweetly comic ‘Don Giovanni

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

STD-LICIOUS  |  Even prim Donna Anna (Claire Rutter) can hardly resist the wooing of a Spanish noble (Paulo Szot) in Dallas Opera’s charming ‘Don Giovanni.’ (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
STD-LICIOUS | Even prim Donna Anna (Claire Rutter) can hardly resist the wooing of a Spanish noble (Paulo Szot) in Dallas Opera’s charming ‘Don Giovanni.’ (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

DON GIOVANNI
Winspear Opera House,
2403 Flora St.
Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets from $25.
DallasOpera.org

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A character in the musical Nine describes an Italian film director, based on Federico Fellini, as “a mixture of Catholicism, pasta and pornography.” The phrase could just as easily apply to ­­­­­the title antihero of Don Giovanni, at least in Dallas Opera’s Pulp Fiction-like interpretation. A rollicking, Dadaist take on Mozart’s dark, dreamy comedy-drama, it’s a romp.

If Giovanni (Tony Award-winner Paulo Szot, as sexy as all get-out), who romances woman with serial obsession, were alive today, he’d have an entire hour to himself on a sex-addict edition of Jerry Springer: He woos Donna Anna (Claire Rutter) while avoiding revenge from her betrothed, Don Ottavio (tenor Jonathan Boyd) and the wrath of a former conquest, Donna Elvira (Georgia Jarman, looking like Lana Turner in a shiny catsuit). If it didn’t end with Giovanni swallowed up by hell, it would be an all-out French farce or American teen sex comedy.

There’s Mozart’s music, of course, which elevates the discourse, as do director-designer John Pascoe’s gorgeous sets and playful handling of the material. This is woozy fun.

Watching Szot, already flirtatious and sexy, frolic around in a fountain is­­­ like some kind of homoerotic Renaissance wet T-shirt contest.

But it’s not all about matinee-idol looks. Szot’s acting — indeed, the acting by the entire cast — is as strong as the singing. Jarman’s performance is especially engaging, and Ailyn Perez as the peasant Zerlina deserves props for staying sensuous during an annoyingly loud set change.

Bass Mirco Palazzi as the servant Leperello milks humor easily with his physicality, and Boyd’s lovely rendition of “Dallas sua pace” is a highlight of Act 1.

The last time the Dallas Opera mounted Don Giovanni, it was a dour, stiff affair without any sparks; this version reinvents the show for them, and makes an excellent kick-off to their new season.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

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