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Press Reviews

 

‘There was a lot of heat being generated at the premiere of Sir Thomas Allen’s production for Mozart’s Don Giovanni, both on stage and in the audience. This was largely down to the combination of Jacques Imbrailo’s electrifying performance in the title role and the wildfire pace of the dramatic and musical action…Given the contradictions of Don Giovanni’s character (let’s not forget he’s a rapost and a liar), this production deftly balances comedy with extremely dark material. Everything meshes together, from designer Simon Higlett’s shadowy interpretation of 18th-century Venice, eerily lit by Mark Jonathan, to the evocative masks and costumes. The singing is splendid and the characters insightfully developed…I cannot recommend this production highly enough.’
Daily Record ****
 

‘Lock up your daughters – Don Giovanni’s back in town. And in this new production by Scottish Opera, Mozart’s notorious philanderer is more lecherous, more charming, more arrogant, and more gloriously despicable than ever. For even in a performance outstanding for the energy and dynamism of its young cast, the visually arresting sets and the dazzling musicality, there can be no doubt who is the star. Jacques Imbrailo, a rakish Ralph Fiennes look-alike, is irresistible as the Don…Giovanni is always a complex character. He is so despicable that he thinks nothing of rape and murder; yet so strangely likeable that we can be amused by his plotting and his boastful black book, listing no fewer than 2,065 conquests. Imbrailo, a South African baritone making his debut with Scottish Opera, unites these different aspects. He portrays the Don as driven by a demented energy that even he seems powerless to control…Prepare to be seduced; this is Don Giovanni at his ravishing best.’
Scottish Daily Mail ****

 

Jacques Imbrailo’s Don is a cynical, priapic swashbuckler rather than the pantomime villain of some productions, and all the better for inviting some grudging admiration; while Lisa Milne maintains a stately dignity as Donna Elvira…Both sing superbly, as do Ed Lyon as Don Ottavio, Anna Devin as Zerliina, and an understydying Anita Watson as Donna Anna. Basso profundo Johann Smari Saevarsson, as is traditional, all but steals the show as the avenging Commendatore. But the real worth of this production is the way its parts come together as a greater whole. The orchestra, under the youthful baton of Speranza Scappucci, treats Mozart’s soaring melodies with confidence, while [Simon] Higlett’s shadowy set…is beautifully lit by [Mark] Jonathan. There is real fire at the gates of Giovanni’s hell. This Don makes you an offer that is not to be refused.’
Scottish Daily Express ****
 

‘The classic scenario of the serial seducer whose violence and sexual rapacity eventually bring divine retribution finds an apt historical frame in the handsome costumes and period setting. [Sir Thomas] Allen also discoversa way to move successfully back and forth between the serious and comic elements, which are notoriously hard to negotiate…the relationship between Jacques Imbrailo’s suave, mellifluous Giovanni and Peter Kalman’s downcast Leporello feels unusually complicit…Lisa Milne’s expert singing offers Donna Elvira dignity in her constant harrying of Giovanni while not disguising the fact that her chase is as self-deceiving as it is futile.The sparring between Anna Devin’s manipulative Zerlina and Barnaby Rea’s borderline abusive Masetto is neatly sketched in…conductor Speranza Scappucci allows space for Mozart’s vocal lines to blossom while astutely conveying the internal richness of the orchestral drama.’
The Guardian ****

 

‘Mozart’s (im)morality tale has been given a witty and boisterous take by Scottish Opera director Sir Thomas Allen and his talented cast, providing audiences with vicarious thrills from the comfort of their seats as well, of course, as some of Wolfgang’s best tunes…Jacques Imbrailo is impressive in the title role. Strutting, arrogant and able to turn on a penny from charming to brutal, his powerful baritone is capable of being commanding and insinuating when required. As the Don’s put upon factotum Leporello, Peter Kalman gives excellent service to both his master and the audience. His hangdog expressions and suffering are hugely entertaining as is the interplay between himself and Imbrailo’s Don…[Anna Devin’s] manipulation of Barnaby Rea’s Masetto is a wonderful mixture of innocence and sauciness. Ed Lyon imbues Don Ottavio…with real emotion and Anita Watson’s Donna Anna sketches the pain of her father’s loss with her beautiful coloratura voice. The most complex character is Donna Elvira…Lisa Milne gives an astonishing performance in the role.’
TVBomb ****
 

 

Jacques Imbrailo is darkly compelling as the Don, and his recitatives with the grubby Leporello (a persuasive Peter Kalman) are taken at a pleasingly speech-like lick. Barnaby Rea bristles with anger and lust as Masetto, and in one telling scene with his fiancée Zerlina (a smouldering Anna Devin) suggests that the Don isn’t the only one with kinky ideas. Lisa Milne is a tower of simmering fury as Donna Elvira, and the orchestra under Speranza Scappucci gives a rich, vivid, crisply articulated account.’
The Scotsman ***

 

[Sir Thomas Allen’s] production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is lucid, astute and, with stagecraft by regular design partner Simon Higlett, richly handsome…there were excellent performances – notably Jacques Imbrailo’s virile Giovanni, Anna Devin’s sparkling Zerlina and Peter Kalman’s genial Leporello…Devin makes an an ideal Zerlina in sound and stage presence; the Irish soprano is abirght spark indeed. Lisa Milne has the vocal warmth for Elvira, while Allen choreographs the cast’s chemistry expertly.’
The Herald ***
 

‘I like the zest of Jacques Imbrailo’s swaggering, louche and very charming portrayal of the Don: at times you almost believe that he can sniff out women with a twitch of his nose…There are polished performances, notably Lisa Milne’s ardent Elvira, impeccably sung, and Peter Kalman’s laconic Leporello…Anna Devin’s sweet Zerlina and Barnaby Rea’s lusty Masetto are well cast, Ed Lyon’s Don Ottavio…strikes a virile tone in Il mio tesoro.’
The Times ***

 

‘a refreshingly conservative approach, handsomely designed by Simon Higlett to suggest the back streets of Casanova’s Venice. The mood is dark, intensified by the chiaroscuro of Mark Jonathan’s lighting and the presence of sinister commedia dell’arte zanies who manipulate the scenery and lurk round corners. Yet [Sir Thomas] Allen keeps the action clearly legible: you don’t need the surtitles to follow its lineaments…The best news of the evening was Lisa Milne’s confidently shaped and histrionically vibrant Donna Elvira – an interpretation that promised a return to the form which ranked her as one of the leading young lyric sopranos of the Millenium years.’
The Daily Telegraph ***

 

‘South African Jacques Imbrailo’s lively Don Giovanni in his high collared cream and azure satin brocade coat swished and swaggered through the evening, smoothly pursuing his potential victims and indignant when challenged. He was well paired with Peter Kalman’s downtrodden Leporello who gave a heartfelt performance with well-judged humour…Ruth Jenkins-Róbertsson’s pure-voiced Zerlina (a double cast part in this run) was a particular delight of the evening…Elsewhere, Ed Lyon as Ottavio sang his two arias splendidly…This Don Giovanni won the audience over by compelling storytelling, good solid acting, competent singing and a stylish production offering a fresh take on the tale.’
bachtrack.com ***

[Lisa] Milne does not hold back and delivers a captivating performance. Don Giovanni’s servant, Leporello, is a pitiful fool, expressively sung by Peter Kalman. The interactions between Leporello and his master are some of the most enjoyable in the production. Ed Lyon is a showcase of technique in both his solo performances as Don Ottavio and his moments alongside Anita Watson’s Donna Anna. Watson delivers an emotional performance suited to her grief-stricken character.’
Aberdeen Now

 

‘a wonderful evening of music, drama and intrigue.’
Press & Journal
 

Jacques Imbrailo’s Don was a threatening and unpredictable creation which slid around the dark corners of Venice on an oil slick of his own making. Vocally impressive and dramatically convincing, he lived dangerously and died memorably. His down-at-heel side-kick the put-upon Leporello was also well cast in the person of Peter Kalman, who wove dark comedy into the part without defusing the menace of his master’s treatment of himself and others… Ruth Jenkins-Robertsson’s Zerlina was refreshingly effective.’
Nairnshire Telegraph