Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mozart's Bad Boy Headed to McCaw Hall

The motorcycle that Nicolas Cavallier/Mark Walters will ride as the title character in Don Giovanni which plays at Seattle Opera Oct. 18 - Nov. 1. Motorcycle provided by Moto International Seattle.  
This fall, one of the most popular operas of all time is heading to Seattle. Here's a hint: The hashtag we're using to talk about the show is #MozartsBadBoy! Yes, that's right. Don Giovanni's the name; sweet sin is his favorite game!

With glorious music, Don Giovanni tells a cautionary tale of an insatiable skirt-chaser who must pay the price for his misdeeds. Seattle Opera's production was praised when first presented in 2007. The Everett Herald wrote: “Seattle’s production pulses with scenic delights and compelling staging that never drags. It’s a big story to tell: Don Juan seduces and worse, even murders, without remorse....In this production, it’s a great ride.”

Aidan Lang, our new General Director in more than three decades, said people have been coming back to this work since its 1787 premiere. Why? The genius of Mozart’s compelling characters, for one:

“Mozart gives us a tug-of-war between thought and feeling, right brain and left brain. Logic tells us we should condemn the character of the Don outright. But then our emotions kick in. We cannot help but be charmed, or even seduced by him. We reluctantly admire his unflinching adherence to his worldview, which celebrates free will even in the face of death.”

Stage director (and three-time Seattle Opera Artist of the Year award winner) Chris Alexander also thinks there's more to the Don than simply being bad. Alexander is excited to show the character as dynamic, as monstrously charming (or a charming monster). Joining Alexander on Giovanni's artistic team is the one-and-only Gary Thor Wedow, known for his "authoritative musical leadership” and “vibrant conducting” according to The Seattle Times. Alexander's most recent work at McCaw Hall includes The Tales of Hoffmann (2014). Recently, Wedow has led compelling performances of The Magic Flute (2011) and Orpheus and Eurydice (2012).  

Mariusz Kwiecien (Don Giovanni) in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, 2007. Rozarii Lynch photo

In the title role, the production stars French bass, Nicolas Cavallier, who thrilled Seattle audiences in the May 2014 production of The Tales of Hoffmann with performances that were “urbane,” “smooth,” and “richly sung,” according to Opera News. Indeed, The Seattle Times called his portrayal of Hoffmann’s Villains, a “quadruple-threat”; he sang strongly and dominated each with a “particular brand of menace.”

Nicolas Cavallier played The Villians in the 2014 production, The Tales of Hoffmann. Elise Bakketun photo

Lawrence Brownlee returns to Seattle to sing Don Ottavio for the first time in his professional career. The Seattle Times said the Seattle Opera Young Artist graduate was “at the international top of his form” when he sang Tonio in Daughter of the Regiment a year ago, in October 2013. The newspaper added: “[Brownlee] sings his highflying arias with an ease, purity and polish that could hardly be bettered."

Lawrence Brownlee (right) pictured with Sarah Coburn in Daughter of the Regiment (2013).
Elise Bakketun photo 
Cuban soprano Elizabeth Caballero returns to McCaw Hall for the role of Donna Elvira following her performance as Mimì in La bohéme in February 2013. “As Mimì, Elizabeth Caballero was far and away the best singer in the cast, her voice swelling gracefully over every note, light but powerful, precise but full,” wrote City Arts Magazine. Soprano Christine Brandes will sing Donna Elvira in the alternate cast. Previous Seattle appearances for Brandes include Pamina in The Magic Flute and Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro.

Elizabeth Caballero as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, 2009. Rozarii Lynch, photo.
Making her Seattle Opera debut is Canadian soprano Erin Wall as Donna Anna—whose portrayal of this part has been called “exceptional” by the Vancouver Observer. Also making debuts in Seattle are several American artists: baritone Mark Walters (alternate cast Don Giovanni), soprano Alexandra LoBianco (alternate cast Donna Anna), tenor Randall Bills (alternate cast Don Ottavio) and Evan Boyer (Masetto).

Don Giovanni also features Cecelia Hall as Zerlina and Jordan Bisch as the Commendatore. Erik Anstine returns as Leporello, a role he sang to praise from The Seattle Times in 2011 as a Seattle Opera Young Artist. Ashraf Sewailam returns as Don Giovanni’s manservant in the alternate cast.

Marie-Therese Cramer’s chic costume designs incorporate both 18th century and modern-day fashions, and sets by Robert Dahlstrom were lauded as “the most persuasive and imaginative of his career” by The Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2007.

Don Giovanni in 2007. Rozarii Lynch, photo.

Production Sponsor: Maryanne Tagney and David Jones

The 2014/15 Season in honor of Speight Jenkins

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington

7 performances: Oct. 18, 19 (matinee), 22, 25, 29, 31 and Nov. 1
Approximate Running Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes with one intermission
Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., matinee at 2:00 p.m.

For more information, go to

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