Review: Edmonton Opera Re-Imagines DON GIOVANNI Through a Modern Canadian Lens

Elliot Madore stars as the infamous charmer in Joel Ivany’s re-imagined English production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, leading a small, stellar cast.

By: Feb. 02, 2024
Review: Edmonton Opera Re-Imagines DON GIOVANNI Through a Modern Canadian Lens

Opera’s most notorious ladies’ man has returned to The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. This time, Don Giovanni prowls the streets of 21st century Canada, flaunting red carpet-worthy attire and spamming women with flirty texts. 

Elliot Madore stars as the infamous charmer in Joel Ivany’s re-imagined English production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, leading a small, stellar cast of other award-winning talent.  

Inspired by the exploits of a fictional Spanish nobleman, Don Giovanni features the titular character’s dalliances with three different women: the elegant Donna Anna (Jonelle Sills), bold Donna Elvira (Andrea Núñez), and jittery bride, Zerlina (Mirielle Asselin). Accompanied by his hapless friend, Leporello (Justin Welsh), Don Giovanni sniffs out new conquests like a bloodhound, nonplussed even as police suspect him of murder. Eventually, Don Giovanni finds himself not only skirting the law but vengeful visitations from the ghost of his victim, the Commendatore (Benjamin Sieverding). 

Joined by a black-clad ensemble and accompanied by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the cast’s vocals are truly a delight to listen to. Though occasionally difficult to discern the lyrics, Ivany’s English translation of Mozart’s Italian libretto lends itself to a unique audience experience. Emojis appear in the projected subtitles of Don Giovanni’s texts to Zerlina, characters mention Tim Hortons, and Leporello eagerly shows off dance moves he learned on TikTok. Welsh’s Leporello is a crowd favourite, as well as John Tessier as Donna Anna’s besotted suitor, Don Ottavio. Tessier delivers a showstopping rendition of Il mio tesoro, garnering thunderous applause.  

Though Don Giovanni forgoes a lavish set and intricate costumes, it is still striking to look at. A raised, chair-lined platform serves as the show’s backdrop, often bathed in deep red light. The orchestra plays at the foot of the platform, and characters often use chairs and music stands placed along the stage’s foreground. These visuals lend themselves well to this contemporary production, as do the characters’ polished suits and glamorous modern dresses (all designed by Michael Gianfrancesco).  

Unconventional and unexpectedly comedic, Don Giovanni will charm seasoned operagoers and newcomers alike. The production’s second and final performance plays Edmonton’s Northern Jubilee Auditorium on February 3. 

Elliot Madore in Don Giovanni. Curtis Perry/National Arts Centre 

Photo Credit: Curtis Perry




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