ALAMEDA -- Mozart's opera, "Don Giovanni," actually both a comedy and a drama, opened at Alameda's Rhythmix Cultural Works last weekend. It was a beautiful effort by all concerned.
For comedy, the cast includes baritone Jo Vincent Parks as Leporello, a servant to the title character. Parks is an excellent actor-comedian commanding piercing eyes and a voice that rings out over a happily involved audience.
Anders Froehlich, as Giovanni, has studied four areas of music since he was 10 years old. His graceful movements and slim body make him an ideal choice to portray a character who is fascinating to women as well as either immoral or sexually pathologic.
Eileen Meredith usually sings operatic leading ladies, but here she plays the juicier role of Elvira, one of Giovanni's earlier and longer lasting partners. Elvira is thoroughly angry with Giovanni, the man who abandoned her, but jubilant at his apparent reconsideration. The role utilizes much of her acting as well as vocal abilities.
This performance marks Angela Eden Moser's second tune to sing revenge seeking Donna Anna. When Giovanni tries to rape Anna, her father tries to save her. This attempt costs him his life.
Although Anna is betrothed to faithful Don Ottavio, warmly portrayed by Raymond Chavez, her energies now are all spent for finding and murdering the man who killed her father.
It is a pity that William Pickersgill, who sings the role of Anna's father, has such a small role. His voice is an outstanding rolling bass, rolling beautifully throughout the auditorium.
Giovanni's three female conquests, upon whom the opera concentrates, all wear miniskirts -- unheard of in 1787, the year "Don Giovanni" premiered.
The third of Giovanni's attempted victims is a naive young bride, Zerlina, sung by Elizabeth Baker. She is dressed in a bridal gown, (very very short, of course), and flower bedecked tennis shoes.
Baker is required to lie on the floor and kick high to indicate that she is enjoying being seduced. Later, she begs forgiveness from her bridegroom, Masetto, who is double cast by Jason Sarten and Jordan Eldredge.
The accompanying 15-piece orchestra, led by Jonathan Khuner, blends the action with the music better than in earlier Virago Theatre's previous operatic endeavors.
Khuner plays the music of a chord organ to effectively change the feeling of the opera's effective ending.
Khuner is also credited with writing the televised subtitles -- extremely helpful in clarifying the words of the actors who sing only in Italian.
The entire production was conducted by Eileen Meredith's vocal coach, Olivia Stapp. Stapp sang many operatic roles over her 30-year career, and now serves as artistic director of Festival Opera in Walnut Creek.
Perhaps the modern day clothing worn by the show's female characters were an effort to make "Don Giovanni" closer to the 21st century.
This is totally unnecessary. "Don Giovanni" has been a favorite of Mozart's operas for almost 300 years. Its copious melodies are sweet and simple and possess deeper qualities that keep a listener intrigued.