Interview: Charles H. Eaton of DON GIOVANNI at Minnesota Opera

This production runs now through May 21st

Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Federation of Musicians #10-208 Reach Contractual Labor Agreement
Charles H. Eaton
Photo by Matt Madison-Clark

Don Giovanni is an egotistical and infamous womanizer, brazen in his shameless seductions. But his betrayals soon catch up to him when divine retribution exacts the ultimate price. Set in the 1930s, this new production centers the women who cross paths with Don Giovanni and ultimately deliver his grim fate. Mozart's sharp and otherworldly opera seamlessly blends dark comedy with biting social commentary, all set to some of opera's most stirring music.

We chat with Charles Eaton who plays Masetto in the Minnesota Opera's production of Don Giovanni.

What inspired you to sing opera and who were your musical influences?

I didn't know much about opera until my undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut. I started as a music education major, but my voice teacher Dr. Jeffrey McEvoy encouraged me to explore the repertoire more. I eventually switched to vocal performance my junior year. I especially fell in love as a senior when I got to perform Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. That inspired me to apply for graduate programs, and I actually ended up at the University of Minnesota for my master's in vocal performance- in fact, one of my first roles at the U was Masetto!

I'll also always be eternally grateful to my middle school music / chorus teacher, Ken Johnson, who continues to inspire his students to find joy in music like he did for me. I know I wouldn't be doing what I love if it weren't for him.

What is your favorite aria in Don Giovanni?

I've always loved "Vedrai carino" - I think it highlights the notable contrast between the intimate relationships of the "peasant class" and the nobility with its simple, sweet melody. Zerlina and Masetto's relationship serves as a relieving depiction of love (despite Masetto's jealousy) in an otherwise brutal display of misogyny, and Keturah Stickann's take on their relationship only furthers that idea.

What do you enjoy most about playing Masetto?

I think this fresh interpretation also allows Masetto more layers than the normal take on his character. Without spoiling too much, he isn't solely a jealous husband, but willingly participating in a "game" that he and Zerlina often play. It's not until he thinks she's actually cheated on him that he becomes not simply jealous, but truly hurt. I've loved exploring those layers more with this amazing cast and creative.

Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Federation of Musicians #10-208 Reach Contractual Labor Agreement
Charles H. Eaton as Masetto in the Minnesota Opera production of Don Giovanni
Photo by Cory Weaver

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing this production of Don Giovanni?

My hope with any opera production I'm a part of is that audiences are able to connect with and be critical of the aspects of humanity that we are trying to highlight in the performance. While I hope nobody empathizes with Giovanni himself, I do hope audiences leave pondering how Mozart and Da Ponte's story applies to who we are as a society 200+ years after they wrote it- our updated set (Liliana Duque Piñeiro) and 1930s costume design (Sarah Bahr) help make these characters more accessible to modern viewers.

What are your favorite local spots.

Some of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities are Hola Arepa (South Minneapolis), Tea House on University Ave., and Young Joni in Northeast (turns out the head chef and owner, Ann Kim, is a big opera fan!). I also love all the dog friendly coffee shops and breweries so I can bring my mini aussie mix Nova out with me :).

Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Federation of Musicians #10-208 Reach Contractual Labor Agreement
Charles and his dog Nova
Photo courtesy of Charles

Thank you Charles for your time!

For more ticket and show information for the Minnesota Opera's production of Don Giovanni, please click the ticket link button below.


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