Make us your home page
Instagram

Don Giovanni is a wicked winner to close out Opera Tampa's season

Carlos Alvarez, center, performs as Don Giovanni in the Opera Tampa production of Don Giovanni along with David Cushing as Leporello, his servant. The story wraps up Opera Tampa’s season with a show today. Don Giovanni is the most lavish set this year for the series at the Straz Center, dimly hinting at heights that may one day be achieved, and stars a world-class baritone in Alvarez.

Courtesy of Will Staples

Carlos Alvarez, center, performs as Don Giovanni in the Opera Tampa production of Don Giovanni along with David Cushing as Leporello, his servant. The story wraps up Opera Tampa’s season with a show today. Don Giovanni is the most lavish set this year for the series at the Straz Center, dimly hinting at heights that may one day be achieved, and stars a world-class baritone in Alvarez.

TAMPA — Opera Tampa concludes its season this weekend by going for broke with Don Giovanni and certainly the most lavish set this year, not to mention a world-class baritone in the title role.

The Florida Opera Festival, three productions over three months at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, reminds us with this one what an asset the program is for the Tampa Bay area. The effort also dimly hints at ambitions that might yet be conceived, heights that one day may be achieved. This Don Giovanni has not been modernized nor adorned with video imagery, as some companies have chosen to do. Apart from some pyrotechnics at the end, this is a straightforward treatment.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the company has gone all out, giving an immortal opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as much punch as possible. Based on the legend of Don Juan and written by librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, the story centers on opera's greatest rogue. It opens darkly with an attempted rape of Donna Anna (sung with chiseled delicacy by Rocio Ignacio) by Spanish nobleman Don Giovanni, followed by the murder of the victim's father, who intervened at the cost of his life.

That scene introduces an oddly endearing pair, the villain and his hapless servant. As Leporello, who must reluctantly cover for his master's misdeeds, David Cushing takes advantage of one of the opera's more finely drawn roles, and with a solid bass baritone delivery.

Carlos Alvarez as Giovanni delivers an unforgettable performance, thanks to his profoundly gorgeous baritone pipes. A major star still at the top of his game, Alvarez alternates in the opening scene between the faintest blurry edges and the purest of tones, and only gets better from there. A particularly accessible example: Giovanni's serenade to the chambermaid of Donna Elvira, his discarded lover at the start of Act II.

A fine cast of principals reacts to Giovanni's felonious deeds. Kenneth Kellogg as Il Commendatore, the father who dies in Act I, serves Giovanni a chilling comeuppance from beyond the grave, dragging the unrepentant and committed hedonist to hell in a bedrock, if somewhat gravelly, bass. Not long before that, Miriam Khalil as Donna Elvira masters a difficult love-hate aria with a tragic urgency.

Three pillars of this year's season will surely be missed. Cecilia Violetta Lopez (who played Violetta in La Traviata) again anchored a major role with vocal richness as the peasant girl Zerlina, whom Giovanni hopes to add to his list of conquests. Cody Austin, a bell clear tenor, and Gabriel Preisser play the good-hearted but outwitted suitors Don Ottavio and Masetto in a way that shows they care about performance as well as hitting the money notes.

Meanwhile, artistic director and conductor Daniel Lipton again brings out the passion from a full orchestra and chorus. Before Friday's performance, Straz Center president and CEO Judith Lisi announced the lineup for Opera Tampa's 2016-17 season to an appreciative audience.

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

. If you go

Don Giovanni

The opera starts at 2 p.m. today in Morsani Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $49.50-$109.50. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

2016-17 Florida Opera Festival

Romeo and Juliet: Ill-fated lovers defy their clans to marry secretly in this Shakespeare tragedy. Charles Gounod's dark, intense music and a first-rate libretto narrate the tale. Sung in French. 8 p.m. Jan. 20 and 2 p.m. Jan. 22.

Cinderella: The fairy princess (known in Italian as "La Cenerentola") is not the only one in love (or wearing a disguise) in this familiar tale transformed by Gioachino Rossini. Sung in Italian. 8 p.m. Feb. 10 and 2 p.m. Feb. 12.

Tosca: A rejected suitor stalks the lovely singer Tosca, which sets in motion a masterpiece by Giacomo Puccini, with soaring arias and duets. Sung in Italian. 8 p.m. April 7 and 2 p.m. April 9.

All performances will be at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Don Giovanni is a wicked winner to close out Opera Tampa's season 04/09/16 [Last modified: Saturday, April 9, 2016 7:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Until this song, Alan Parsons Project stood on much higher ground

    Blogs

    Listening to yesterday's Keats song made me pine for more Alan Parsons Project music and today we dig deeper into their catalogue with Standing On Higher Ground.

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 23

    Events

    Marie Antoinette: Freefall 411: A contemporary look at the historic pariah looks at Marie Antoinette through the lens of society's obsession with celebrity. Through August 13. A brief talk prior to the performance provides insight to the production. 1 p.m., show starts at 2 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central …

    Lucas Wells as King Louis XVI, left, and Megan Rippey as Marie Antoinette in Freefall Theatre's "Marie Antoinette."
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 22

    Events

    Snooty the Manatee's 69th Birthday Bash: Snooty, documented by Guinness World Records as the oldest known manatee in captivity, turns 69 and celebrates with children's games, art activities, cookies, drinks , interaction with Snooty the mascot and reduced price museum admission. 10 a.m., South Florida Museum, 201 …

    Snooty the manatee poses for a photo Thursday morning while three young manatees are unloaded from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Thursday morning at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
PAUL VIDELA/pvidela@bradenton.com 12/20/07
  4. Spring Hill to mark golden anniversary with celebration at Lake House

    Events

    SPRING HILL

    It was 1967 when the Deltona Corp. began selling homes in western Hernando County, a rural area that previously had been little more than a vast forest of oak and pine trees.

    This photo, taken in 1967, shows Spring Hill’s signature waterfall at the intersection of Spring Hill Drive and U.S. 19. The community will celebrate its 50th anniversary on July 27.
  5. Cridlin: Linkin Park's Chester Bennington had a wail that stood apart

    Music & Concerts

    For all the old-timers' talk about how they don't make singers like they used to, about how rock vocalists of the 21st century can't hold a candle to the frontmen of yesteryear, here's a fact no hater could deny:

    Chester Bennington could flat-out wail.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park  performs at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the 2014 Carnivores Tour. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]