Based on the legend of Don Juan, Mozart’s opera tells the story of a man whose constant infidelity and lack of remorse results in his ultimate demise. Surtitles — translations projected above the stage — let English speakers follow along in an experience similar to watching a foreign film. And even if you know Don Giovanni well, “with Mozart, you always come away with something new every time,” says Opera Cleveland’s artistic director Dean Williamson.
[It has a dark side]
Though Don Giovanni was written and set in 1787, an ultramodern set by designer Kris Stone makes for a striking and unique visual experience. “The set almost looks like a Tim Burton film,” says Williamson. “It’s that kind of bizarre, slightly twisted [look that], visually and dramatically, has such a wonderful sense of whimsy.”
[It pushes the envelope]
The curtain rises in full period regalia (read: wigs and tights). But behind Don Giovanni is a series of five women in full-body leotards — “We’re calling them iPod girls, very slick,” says Williamson — wrapped floor to ceiling in nylon tubing. Their look is straight from the minds of Stone and director John Hoomes. “What I love is this juxtaposition,” Williamson says of the decision to pair period costumes with modern sets. “It’s taking the timeless theme even further.”
“So many people take this story as one man’s lack of redemption for his sins,” he says, “but it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek.” Mozart classified Don Giovanni as a “dramma giocoso,” or comedic opera. Williamson explains, “As human beings, we’re not always dead-set or funny; we’re a little bit of both. It’s so funny and bizarre and yet serious at the same time.”
Oct. 30, Nov. 1 & 7, State Theatre, (216) 575-0903, operacleveland.org.