Don Giovanni: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1787)

Mozart: Don Giovanni

★★★

(Royal Opera House, directed by Kasper Holten, 1 July 2015)

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to book tickets for the opera on the hottest day since 2006, but nevertheless here I was, wilting gently in my standing place at the back of the stalls in the Royal Opera House, and preparing myself for my first encounter with Don Giovanni. As I’ve come at opera by a rather niche route, I’ve managed to avoid virtually all the great blockbusters and so knew nothing about Don G beyond the plot. I hadn’t even heard any of the music before. And I have to be brutally honest and say that I didn’t immediately warm to it as an opera.

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Giulio Cesare: George Frideric Handel (1724)

Handel: Giulio Cesare

(Glyndebourne, 2005, directed by Sir David McVicar, conducted by William Christie)

One thing’s for sure. Handel certainly didn’t imagine anything quite like this. With zeppelins hovering over the Alexandrian harbour in the final act and Bollywood-style dance routines thrown into the arias, this production is joyously exuberant and thoroughly addictive. It was the first time I’d watched or heard the opera and it was the perfect introduction: indeed, I ended up feeling quite jealous of the people who’d been able to see it in the flesh.

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