Another Mozart masterpiece

The emerging young talent from the Royal Danish Theatre Opera Academy take to the stage this month to perform Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the intimate setting of Takkelloftet, the small stage, or ‘black box’, tucked behind the main stage of the Opera House. It’s a hugely exciting prospect getting a glimpse of the graduates – and no doubt some of the future stars of Royal Danish Opera – perform such a complex opera at such close proximity, and it somehow seems fitting that such a youthful cast should take on the work of one of the world’s best known child prodigies.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in January 1756, was at the ripe old age of 31 – only four years away from his death – when he wrote the music for Don Giovanni in 1787. By then of course he was hugely famous having composed his first piece at the age of five, toured Europe performing in front of royal courts and influential composers from the age of six, and written the opera Mailridate, re di Ponto at the age of 14, and become a court musician to the ruler of Salzburg at the age of 17. However, of the 600 plus works he composed, ‘Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni’, which translates to ‘The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni’ is seen as one of his greatest successes and remains today the seventh most-performed opera world-wide.

The two-act opera with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte tells the story of a young, arrogant, sexually promiscuous nobleman who abuses and outrages everyone and everything until he finally meets his match. The first act sees him seduce a roll-call of girls (in the song ‘Madamina, il catalogo e questo’, Don Giovanni’s servant tells one poor spurned lover that his conquests include 640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey and a whopping 1,003 in Spain). He gradually makes an enemy of almost every member of the cast who in act two try, yet fail, to take their revenge. In the end it is a statue of the Commendatore, which having come to life and asked Don Giovanni to repent, drags the unremorseful nobleman down into hell. The concluding song ‘Questo e il fin’ sums up the moral of the tale with the words: ‘Such is the end of the evildoer: the death of a sinner always reflects his life.’

Ebbe Knudsen, who has previously overseen the academy’s staging of both Bizet’s Carmen and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, directs this month’s performance. The conductor, Jesper Nordin, has been assistant conductor at the Royal Danish Opera since 2003 and made his operatic conducting debut in 2010 with ‘Waiting in Nowhere’. The cast (which is subject to change) sees Waltteri Torikka, a rising Finnish star, play Don Giovanni, Jakob Vad as his servant Leporello, the Swedish bass Henning von Schulman as Commendatore and Henriette Neess Borup, Stephanie Lippert, Cornela Beskow, Hallvar Djupvik and Olga Nikolskaja-Heikkila among Don Giovanni’s foes. It promises to be a celebration of youthful talent and a unique performance that shouldn’t be missed. 

Don Giovanni
Takkelloftet, Operaen, Ekvipagemestervej 10, 1438 Cph K; starts March 28, ends April 1,

Performances at 20:00 on Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun; sold out (tickets cost 150kr),

Check internet forums for tickets; in Italian with Danish subtitles;

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