Don Gio­vanni

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS - Don Gio­vanni dramma gio­coso

The au­di­ence for Santa Fe Opera’s pro­duc­tion of ar­rives to find the back of the stage opened to a scene so lovely that even the liv­er­ied ser­vants are as­sem­bled to gaze at the sun set­ting over the west­ern land­scape. It is apt for the mag­nif­i­cent of Wolfgang Amadè Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, since its Span­ish lo­ca­tion might not look so very dif­fer­ent from our own.

This pro­duc­tion is not about re­al­is­tic set­tings. The prin­ci­pal stage ob­ject rises from be­low decks dur­ing the over­ture: a gi­gan­tic hu­man skull tak­ing form out of an in­choate mass. Prob­a­bly it sig­ni­fies mor­tal­ity. All the ac­tion in Ric­cardo Her­nan­dez’s set re­volves around or on this sculp­ture. The ever-present hulk calls to mind per­haps a sphinx, per­haps a chess-piece. Di­rec­tor Ron Daniels keeps the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions pre­cise and sim­ple, and the cast, dressed in lux­u­ri­ant late-Re­nais­sance cos­tumes by Emily Reb­holz, re­sponds with per­for­mances that are dra­mat­i­cally cred­i­ble.

Daniel Okulitch is a splen­did Don Gio­vanni, hand­some of vis­age and voice, at once cocky and suave, se­duc­tive and dan­ger­ous. He is al­lot­ted only two arias; both were mem­o­rable here. “Deh vieni,” with its adorable man­dolin ob­bli­gato, be­came a high­light of the evening as Okulitch ca­ressed its phrases with

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