THE MAKING OF AN OPERA: Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne by John Higgins

THE MAKING OF AN OPERA: Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne

Email this review


A detailed account of the preparations and rehearsals that led to the controversial but generally acclaimed production of Mozart's Don Giovanni at England's posh, pastoral Glyndebourne Festival in 1977--directed by Sir Peter Hall, head of Britain's National Theatre. After some brief background on Glyndebourne's history and its previous Giovannis, on-the-spot journalist Higgins plunges into details--and neophytes unfamiliar with the score and the libretto (the latter printed in an appendix) will flounder. But for opera buffs, especially those with more interest in dramatic than musical values, the four weeks of rehearsal-by-rehearsal byplay, thick with quotes from director and cast, will be an in-depth joy. Hall's vigorous concept--early 19th-century setting, unrelieved darkness, umbrellas and rain, eye-contact with the audience, Don G. as a serious Enlightenment figure without the ""bogus Casanova overlay""--gave rise to heavy physical and emotional demands on the singers (the Don twisted his ankle), to extensive discussion (except among the non-English speakers), and to innovations in the musical approach as well. No anecdotal backstage hilarity or stardust (no Big Names in the cast). And Higgins might perhaps have been a bit less reverent. But the serious, spirited, pragmatic give-and-take will entrance operagoers who love Mozart for more than just the pretty tunes.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1978
Publisher: Atheneum