The production of Don Giovanni is due to start on Wednesday evening at Victoria’s Royal Theatre.
IN CONCERT: Don Giovanni
Or: Theater Royal, 805 Broughton St.
When: April 20, 22, 24 and 26
Tickets: $29 to $156 at the Royal McPherson box office at 250-386-6121, or online at www.rmts.bc.ca
When Mozart’s Pacific Opera Victoria production Don Giovanni opens tonight, it will set off a succession of premieres. The week of performances at the Royal Theater not only represents the company’s first stage productions since February 2020, but also marks the debuts of several actors.
Plus, the run will be the first time veteran director Maria Lamont has helmed the well-worn classic based on the Don Juan story, which in itself is something of a surprise. She has held the director’s chair in several major opera houses around the world – including La Scala in Milan, the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam – but it is only in de rare occasions that she tackles the operas of one of the great composers of all time.
“For some reason, I haven’t done much Mozart work in my career,” Lamont said over the phone, during rehearsals for the upcoming production. “He crossed my path at opera school, and I was offered Don Giovanni [before]but it never worked. »
Lamont, who was born in Winnipeg but lives in Antwerp, Belgium, said she was relishing the opportunity to work with Pacific Opera again, after collaborating with the company on Maria Stuarda in 2012 and Bohemian in 2018. The title role in Don Giovanni will be played by Vancouver bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch. Lucia Lucas, who lives in Germany, was originally cast in the role when Pacific Opera announced the production in November. The company has not publicly announced why a casting change was made.
Although Okulitch makes his Pacific Opera main stage debut with this production, the main character is one he knows well; he has held the role more than a dozen times with the Bolshoi Theatre, New York City Opera, and Kansas City Lyric Opera, among other companies. For meticulously detailed production like put on JohnLamont said she drew on the experience of Okulitch and other seasoned performers in the cast, whose contributions were considerable.
“It’s easy with such a complicated plot, with all the comedy, to miss a turn.” Lamont said it was “a joy” to make his way Don Giovanni for the first time, although a production of this magnitude always comes with a certain degree of stress.
“You want to be able to give the amount of attention and time necessary for it to have enough depth.”
She was supported in the effort by a top stage crew, who were very good under pressure, she said. In theatre, a production develops over such a long period of time, whereas in opera things can happen very quickly at the last minute. “Things get very tight very quickly in the final rehearsals.”
When it comes to opera, technical prowess and innovation are important, but preparation is key above all else — especially during the rehearsal process, Lamont said. The pandemic made in-person reunions impossible, but she stayed in touch with her cast and crew in Victoria for the two years. Lamont embraced new and unique ways of working and regularly collaborated with set and costume designer Christina Poddubiuk on Zoom.
Lamont said it was a surprisingly efficient way of working. all things Considered. The delays meant everyone involved in the production had time to tap into the creativity, before bringing it back to the band.
“It’s such a masterpiece, and you go into it with such notions and preconceptions about what it is,” she said. “I’ve seen many productions of it, but the plot is so delicate and detailed that when you work on it [together] you realize, ‘Wow, that’s a real head exploder.’ ”