Opera's Smoothest Operator | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

Opera's Smoothest Operator 

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Except for the brief--albeit awesome--descent to hell near the end, Mozart's Don Giovanni is a klutzy comedy built around one of opera's most outrageous libertines. A sort of Wilt Chamberlain of the 17th century, Giovanni (aka Don Juan) screws his way across Europe--1,000 women in Spain alone--while his servant keeps a running tally. It's a prime example of opera's penchant for linking the cheesiest of scripts with the most sublime music. If Mozart were staging it today, he'd probably want it to be snappy, cheeky, and up-to-date--with maybe a little Eurotrash spin. DuPage Opera Theatre's current English-language production, conducted by Harold Bauer and directed by Michael La Tour, is a more respectful, slightly stiff period piece (moved, it seems, to the 19th century), but it does offer plenty of silly fun, some good young talent, and a chance to hear the wonderful score in a casual setting at a reasonable price. Kenneth Nichols--who plays Giovanni's hapless servant and coconspirator, Leporello--has real stage presence and a terrific voice. Michelle Auslander, as Zerlina, the peasant Giovanni tries to seduce on her wedding day, is charming and sings gorgeously, and Richard Johnson is just right as the ineffectual Don Ottavio. Like the work itself, the musical performances here are superior to the dramatic, but Nichols's comic mugging has corny appeal. Performances start at 8 Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19, in the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell in Glen Ellyn. Tickets are $34, $32 for students and seniors. Call 630-942-4000 for more information.

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