TORONTO CONCERT REVIEWS

Music reviews of the finest concerts in Toronto and beyond!
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Mireille Asselin/Zerlina with Olivier Laquerre/Masetto
​Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

L to R: Douglas Williams/Don Giovanni, Carla Huhtanen/Donna Elvira,
Colin Ainsworth/Don Ottavio and Meghan Lindsay/Donna Anna
​Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

Opera Atelier performs Mozart’s Don Giovanni: Music, Mores, and Morals

Carla Huhtanen played and sang the role of Donna Elvira not as a pathetic, jilted character, but as a clever, active, sometimes manipulative and vindictive heroine, very much the social and intellectual equal of the Don. Huhtanen’s vocal interjections and expressions were spot on, sometimes farsical, sometimes barbed.

Equally strong was the performance of Meghan Lindsay (Donna Anna). Her voice was resonant and expressive, her acting and movement convincing.

Opera Atelier has grasped the essence of Don Giovanni as an opera buffa. Artistic director Marshall Pynkoski furnished a facsimile of a note (on the cover of the program) in the hand of Mozart, who designated this in the title as “opera Buffa in two acts.” The music-dramatic choices that flowed from this (the right ones) propelled the cast to an excellent, evocative performance. In addition to the light-hearted music and the farsical (sometimes dark-farsical) repartée, there are also serious, beautiful arias in Don Giovanni, and these stood out in relief against the comedic background. Colin Ainsworth’s (Don Ottavio) aria “Da la sua pace…” was lovely and serene.​

Review by Paul Merkley, F.R.S.C.
Toronto ON November 1st 2019

Mireille Asselin (Zerlina) performed the comedy to the hilt, manipulating her fiancé and charming the audience.

Douglas Williams as Don Giovanni; Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

Cast of Don Giovanni – Opera Atelier 2019; Photo credit: Bruce Zinger

Of the men, the best performance was by Douglas Williams (Don Giovanni). He excelled in Mozart’s chameleon-like role, sometimes matching Donna Elvira’s virtuosity (her music appropriate to her social station as a noblewoman), and at other times singing simply, the bare-bones melodies representing Zerlina the peasant or his servant Leporello, ably and comically performed by Stephen Hegedus.

Opera Atelier’s choreography always impresses, and last night was no exception. Both the authentically directed eighteenth-century dances (kudos to Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg) and the movements of the singers (effectively blocked by Pynkoski) gave the visual element that rounded out the music to good advantage, and the precision of movement and clarity of line was remarkable.

The strings (of Tafelmusik) performed particularly well, complementing the voices. If I may make one suggestion, it would be that the trombones could come out (to the fore) much more.

Spoiler alert: Mozart and da Ponte wrote two different endings for the opera: one for Prague that ends with the Don falling into the fires of Hell, and the other for Vienna, which added a traditional, moralizing chorus. Opera Atelier performed the latter.

Altogether this was an excellent opening night. Catch this production while you can, until November 9th, 2019 at the ​Ed Mirvish Theatre.