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A CurtainUp Berkshire ReviewDon Giovani
It's nice to see the high libido lecher get his just dues -- but of course, the real thrill is in the glorious music. With a few reservations about the staging, the Berkshire Opera Company's Don Giovanni is once again cause for celebrating the presence of this still young company in the Berkshires.
The cast of this Don Giovanni is uniformly outstanding, both in terms of voice and stage presence. Stephen Powell brings a magnificent bass tenor voice to the womanizing central character. Bass baritone Philip Cokorinos is an especially winning Leporello. Lyric tenor Benjamin Brecher is a handsome enough Don Ottavio to out-seduce Don Giovanni though he is in fact Giovanni's opposite --a devoted and understanding lover. His singing is consistently fine. Rachel Rosales is Donna Anna who, guilt stricken about her father's death after a duel with Giovanni , keeps delaying her marriage to Don Ottavio. Rosales and Brecher are well matched, even if her big vengeance aria isn't quite on a par with his "Il Mio Tesoro".
The other two two Donnas caught in Don Giovani's net have gorgeous voices. In a case of art imitating life, soprano Barbara Shirvis's Donna Elvira, who has the closest thing to a longterm relationship with Giovanni, is visibly pregnant. Other Donna Elviras have "faked" this evidence of her being "wronged" but Shirvis's pregnancy is the real thing (she's Mrs. Stephen "Giovanni" Powell off stage). Pregnancy has in no way diminished the richness of her voice, nor does it seem to hamper her movements. Ariana Zuckerman, who has appeared in several BOC productions, gets better all the time. She's a charming and vocally exciting Zerlina and has a fine lover in baritone Bradley Greenwald. Gustav Belacek makes a strong showing as Commendatore.
Except for the unplanned casting of the pregnant Donna Elvira and the inclusion of a child as one of Giovanni's victims appearing in his ominous hell-bent visions, director Robin Guarino has opted for a straightforward interpretation. The staging is rather dour and one-dimensional and the blocking of the actors' movements on the static side, lacking the excitement of the BOC's previous Mozart opera, The Magic Flute (Our Review). As in the past a harpsichordist at the side of the stage lends musical support and Joel Revson ably leads the Camerata orchestra.
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