Rising young singer Joshua Owen Mills is in excellent company in the new, fun Don Giovanni at Nevill Holt Opera.
He sings an elegant and upstanding Don Ottavio, the mirror image in many ways of Don Giovanni, who puts respect for his fiancé’s wishes, chivalry and morality, head of bodily desires. The production from Cardiff-based director Jack Furness allows the young Welsh singer space to perform the elegant Mozart arias without too many distractions, despite appearing in female clothes for the party scene.
He and Donna Anna, sung with panache by Anna Patalong, form another balance, this time to the young peasants whose wedding is interrupted by the Don’s sexual predatory rampages. They are the aristocrat betrothed couple who contrast with the lively peasant couple.
The Don is sung as an energetic and youthful jaunty chap by the fine young singer Seán Boylan (above) and I look forward to hearing his singing voice without the electronic boosting that is used at Nevill Holt with this outdoor staging. Anna Patalong and Aoife Miskelly rise to the challenges of Mozart’s gorgeous arias for Donna Anna and Elvira while one of the strongest performances as the Leporello from Nicholas Crawley.
Benedict Nelson as Masetto and Olivia Warburton as Zerlina made for a charming couple about to get married and much of the production takes a rural wedding as its theme, with corn dollies, country custom traditions, straw costumes.
Dingle Yandell looks the part as Commendatore and he sounded suitably menacing although there was much amplification to add a ghostly sound.
The chorus and actors are given plenty to do, as participants in the wedding parties and also perform rural dances and mess around joyfully in the open space between the grass mound that has been erected for the action to take place and the theatre building.
Furness includes the omitted scene of Zerlina tying up Leporello and singing a revenge aria. It is nicely sung by Olivia Warburton as a now conventional feisty playing of Zerlina but it is not the finest of Mozart arias.
Conductor Finnegan Downie Dear and the first Nevill Holt outing for the Shadwell Ensemble performs on a stage under a large outdoor covered structure behind the mound and the score is brought to life gloriously.
It is a shlep to Nevill Holt Opera near Market Harborough but if the weather looks good it is well worth a trip.
Tickets are very fairly-priced starting from just £35 and free for under-18s. There are three seating zones one for picnic blankets, open air seating and a covered grandstand.
Further performances August 21st, 22nd, 24th and 25th August
Images by Lloyd Winters