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Don Giovanni – 2019
We are delighted to now be able to share these video clips with you, which we hope you will enjoy, and the Where Are They now?
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Director’s Talk – https://youtu.be/YOTon9ICGM4
Photo Album – https://www.clonter.org/don-giovanni-2019-production/
Theatre Reviews North – 4 Stars & Manchester Classical Music
‘This year’s summer production of Don Giovanni is notable for the calibre of the production and music team behind it and the results they have achieved: Clive Timms is completing 10 years as music director and finally conducting his 75th performance here, with Robin Humphreys the long-time assistant music director and repetiteur, and Valeria Racco assistant conductor. Martin Lloyd-Evans has brought a fresh re-thinking of the story as director, and Nate Gibson has created an inspired design concept that neatly overcomes the problems of its varied settings (an issue that can easily defeat other designers).
We’re in the present day, or pretty near (mobile phones are much in use; one is the source Leporello consults for the ‘Catalogue’ aria of his boss’s sexual conquests in Act 1). Gibson and Lloyd-Evans have imagined the place as the USA, but it could easily be any other prosperous, soulless and fundamentally seedy Western society. The characters are nearly all genuinely young in years (that fits the Clonter casting), and what separates the powerful from the powerless is not so much aristocratic versus low-born as money and hypocrisy.
Don Giovanni would have a clear case to answer from the #MeToo movement these days: but how much are the victims of such a libertine complicit in moral failure themselves as they thirst for revenge, redemption or respectability, Lloyd-Evans asks. Perhaps his amorality carries more honesty than their conformity. In this view the homespun couple Zerlina and Masetto, in their attempt at a banal, Las Vegas-style wedding and enjoyment of simple, loving carnality, are the ones we should really admire…
The single set has two movable ‘walls’, with shutters that can each be closed or opened to reveal a second view: evoking inside and outside, foreground and background, a bar, a club or a morgue, with instant effect.
And the statue of the Commendatore, murdered at the outset and who finally answers Giovanni’s invitation to dine and then drags him down to Hell? In this case we see the man spookily reappearing as silent Uber driver, barista or barman, and finally as a corpse that moves and a living head served up on a platter…
The singers are all technically excellent – some much more than that. Eliza Boom (Donna Anna) and Alexandra Lowe (Donna Elvira) are familiar to RNCM opera attenders, and each impressed here – the former for her passionate delivery of Or sai chi l’onore, the latter for the power in her singing, her believable characterisation and a glorious Mi tradi aria.
New to me was Alexandra Oomens (Zerlina), who deserves a medal just for wearing the crazily high-heeled boots she was given, but whose acting and voice had life and loveliness; Vedrai, carino especially.
Of the men, Fabian Langguth rightly dominated the show as the Don. He got the idea of the louche seducer perfectly, and his light baritone, endearing in his amorous songs and almost a croon in Deh vieni all finestra, converted itself to a convincing imitation of Leporello’s bass tones moments afterwards: there’s a lot yet to be revealed there.
Simon Grange, who was Leporello, has enviable resonance and a great comic gift, his face never still, which should stand him in real stead in the future. Andrew Henley (Don Ottavio) brought golden tone to Il mio tesoro, and Stephen Fort was finally imperious as the doom-beckoning corpse-Commendatore. Masetto can sometimes seem a one-dimensional idiot, but in this production he’s a more regular guy and even a bit of a hero in his own way. Jacobo Ochoa has a fine baritone voice and acts, and reacts, very well.
Robert Beale Full Review – Theatre Reviews North https://www.theatrereviewsnorth.com/post/don-giovanni
Opera Now – September 2019
Casting for perfection In Cheshire, northwest England, Clonter Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the company’s splendid 45th season. Founder Jeffery Lockett’s vision remains as vital and enabling as ever. He is a renderer of first-rate opera, and the fashioner of numerous aspiring young singers whose paths he has guided and smoothed over four decades. The 2019 programme book mapped out Clonter’s complete casts since its inception – an amazing array, from Simon Keenlyside (now Clonter’s President), to Amanda Roocroft, Jonathan Lemalu, Claire Rutter, and an exhausting flow of talent from around the world. Lockett’s three daughters now continue the good work. A hugely experienced duo of music director Clive Timms and director Martin Lloyd-Evans have long guaranteed Clonter’s high standards. For this Giovanni they acquired a young designer, Nate Gibson, whose revolving, tongue-in-cheek set supplied amusement and pastiche. His costumes – Zerlina’s was a classic – enhanced the fun … With typical thoroughness Clonter recruits its young singers from exhaustive auditions nationwide. Its success is obvious: there was no weak link in this year’s cast. Vocal highlights came from Andrew Henley’s Ottavio and Alexandra Lowe as Elvira – furnished by Timms with aptly aching strings. Ottavio’s big Act II aria was the best thing of the evening. But every time Elvira came onstage, we were treated to scrumptious tone, engaging rubato and all the poignancy that the jilted Elvira oozes. Enlivened woodwind shone throughout, bassoon (Linton Stephens) not least.… Stephen Fort delivered much neat comedy as a clutch of amusing extras (barman, taxi driver, hairdresser… you get the idea) before dishing up one of the most shivering finales imaginable, surfacing hellishly from a fatal banquet table. Giovanni – ex-Tölz chorister Fabian Langguth – was exquisitely lucid, revelling in appropriately unbelievable slinky arrogance, casually dflowering Zerlina and mercilessly playing along Elvira. New Zealand soprano Eliza Boom made a most agreeable Anna – not too overbearing and genuinely sympathetic. Alexandra Oomens’ bewitched, fragrant, white-booted Zerlina and Jacobo Ochoa’s infuriated Masetto were pure joy, battling often, then touchingly making up. Quartets, Trios, Sextet – all delighted. But it was Simon Grange’s exasperated, shoddily clad Leporello who controlled the shenanigans with assurance, wit and panache.
Roderic Dunnet, Opera Now – September 2019
Opera Magazine – October Issue
‘Multum in parvo’ could easily be Clonter’s motto. Year after year, this little theatre deep in the Cheshire countryside creates surprising ripples … that regularly flow into wider operatic streams and rivers. Clive Timms had announced his retirement last summer after 29 years as an associate of Clonter (nine as music director) but was persuaded to return for a 30th. His orchestra, Clonter Sinfonia, played far beyond what you might expect from string and wind quintets underpinned by timpani and harpsichord (Valeria Racco)… Mozart provides unrelenting pressure for his players; this taut group weathered them all, remarkably so …The eight principales hailed from 7 countries, further evidence of Clonter’s reputation… (Fabian) Langguth’s warm, flexible baritone never less than engaging and often much more. His Italian was impeccable. The other standout in this talented cast was Alexandra Lowe’s committed Elvira, tearing at the heartstrings with an impassioned but nicely focused ‘Mi tradi’. Eliza Boom’s prettily sung Anna hinted at deeper hypocrsiy. Andrew Henley’s Ottavio did not, but he was never the wimpish suitor of tradition and he kept his head during a slightly rushed ‘Il mio tesoro’. Steven Fort brought a firm bass to his persuasive Commendatore. Distinctive contributions from Alexandra Oomens’s Zerlina, Simon Grange’s put-upon Leporello and Jacobo Ochoa’s downtrodden Masetto rounded out this well-balanced team, who provided their own chorus. Multum in parvo indeed.
Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine – October 2019
‘It was absolutely brilliant, the best production of Don G I’ve ever seen- possibly the best opera production I’ve ever seen – And I get around- Longborough, Buxton, ROH’.
‘…After the success of La bohème last year I came to Don Giovanni with some apprehension doubting if the company would be able to perform this great opera. I was wrong. From the first chords it was clear this was to be a serious evening and as the opera unfolded it became obvious the opera was understood and being performed by people with a joint intention to present this most serious work with all the artistry and integrity of which they were capable.
This was a performance to life the heart – with highly intelligent direction and designs allowing the story to be told clearly and the complex action to flow smoothly. The direction (and designs) were to me a model of clarity and refreshing in their contrast with productions overladen with superfluous ideas and director’s peccadilloes with no basis in the score.
The singing was of a high order and the gifted young artists were clearly well prepared and understood the challenges of their roles. It would be too long a letter were I to single out individual performances, but each of the singers seemed to grow vocally and dramatically through the evening to produce glowing and fine portrayals of their roles. Some really beautiful Mozart singing.
And finally the fine conducting of the heroic orchestra…again from the outset one felt this was a group of musicians committed to performing this Masterpiece with every ounce of their considerable ability.
…the achievement of the Company and the management of Clonter in putting on this great work for an audience clearly following every nuance of the score leaves me with deep respect for the achievement’
‘My party left the theatre with a sense of deep satisfaction and gratitude for a memorable evening.’
‘My partner and I visited Clonter for the first time on Sunday and we were both highly impressed. Having been fortunate enough to go to Glyndebourne on numerous occasions, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The performance of Don Giovanni was truly excellent in every respect and we are now hoping to attend your opera events on a very regular basis.
Many thanks for a most memorable experience.’
‘The performance last night was absolutely wonderful. Every voice was perfect for each character. So clever (avoiding spoilers)… it was all amazing and we are just so glad we are having the chance to see it again! Just two performances left.’
‘What a show! We absolutely loved Don Giovanni. It was saucy, steamy, funny and scary too. We jumped out of our skin with the Commentatore’s…(No spoilers here). Very cleverly done. Please pass our thanks and appreciation to the cast, orchestra, conductor, director. And the costumes were brilliant too. Bet Zerlina was pleased to pull those white boots off at the end. WELL DONE ALL AT CLONTER’
Where Are They Now?
Fabian Langguth – Don Giovanni
Since performing the title role in Clonter’s 2019 production, Fabian has won the Trude Eipperie Rieger Prize in October 2019, before returning to take part in another Clonter Opera Gala in November 2019 (stepping in very heroically at the last minute). He then went on to take part in the France Inter, which performed at the Royaumont and Musée d’Orsay in Paris. In November 2019 he reached the 2nd Semi Finals of the International Vocal Competition’s Hertogenbosch (IVC), in the Netherlands. Just before lockdown Fabian was taking part (cut short by the Coronavirus) in the Hans-Christoph Rademann masterclasses, involving musicians from 24 nations.
Finale Lied-Wettbewerb Stuttgart 2018 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9L031sVtpE
1st Round Lied-Wettbewerb 2018 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvxjrA5U764
Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform 2019 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3XCQwoksG8
Alexandra Lowe – Donna Elvira
Since performing the role of Elvira, Alexandra has gone on to study at the National Opera Studio where she performed in scenes as The Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus– amongst others. She was awarded the second prize at the Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2020 and is joining the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House in September 2020.
Full Biog – http://www.alexandralowe.co.uk
Final of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2020 – In quali eccessi… Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata’, Don Giovanni https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThOxS0z_znI
Eliza Boom – Donna Anna
Since performing the role of Donna Anna in Clonter’s 2019 production of Don Giovanni, Eliza has gone on to win the Richard Bonynge Award at the Bel Canto Competition in Sydney, and spent the year training at the National Opera Studio in London. In September 2020 she will join the Bayerische Staatsoper Opera Studio in Munich.
Andrew Henley – Don Ottavio
After Clonter, Andrew went on to perform the role of Heinrich der Schreiber in Wagner Tannhäuser with the Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Austria. Future engagements include 1st Japanese Emissary/Fisherman (cover) in Stravinsky The Nightingale with Welsh National Opera and the Royal Opera House, Britten Les Illuminations with the Moscow Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra and Verdi Requiem at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Alexandra Oomens – Zerlina
Since performing the role of Zerlina in Clonter’s 2019 production of Don Giovanni, Alexandra has gone on to perform the role of Barbarina The Marriage of Figaro for Opera North, and will return to Pinchgut Opera to sing Créuse Médée, and sing the role of Dalinda Ariodante at the London Festival of Baroque Music. Alexandra is represented by Rayfield Allied.
Myself, I shall adore, Semele, Royal Academy 2019 – https://youtu.be/O538ISucidQ
Reviews – ‘Alexandra Oomens showed much promise as Barbarina.’ Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH **** ‘There are also standout performances…and Alexandra Oomens who makes an all too brief but memorable appearance as Barbarina.’ John Murphy, The Stage **** ‘Alexandra Oomens was the peppy Barbarina.’ Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine ‘Barbarina, a cameo role played deliciously by newcomer, Alexandra Oomens.’ Eve Luddington, On: Yorkshire Magazine
Jacobo Ochoa – Masetto
Since performing the role of Masetto in Clonter’s 2019 production of Don Giovanni, Jacobo has gone on to perform the role of Fiorello, El Barbero de Sevilla, for the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, at the Teatro Major Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore for Ópera de Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Tbilisi Z Paliashvili Opera and the Ballet State Theatre. He was due to perform this role for the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, in April, and to contracted to perform the role of the Domestico/Araldo/Sicario in Macbeth for the Teatro Regio di Parma in September.
Simon Grange – Leporello
Since performing the role of Leporello in Clonter’s 2019 production of Don Giovanni, in November 2019 Simon performed the role of Mr Bluff The Impressario for Teatru Manoel in Malta, and was due to sing the role of Collatinus The Rape of Lucretia in concert for Palace opera this July (Postponed until July 2021) and to be a Young Artist for Neville Holt, performing the role of The Marquis in La traviata, also now postponed.
Stephen Fort – The Commendatore
Since performing the role of the Commendatore in Clonter’s production of Don Giovanni in 2019, Stephen joined the Glyndebourne Touring Opera, and was scheduled to return to their chorus for the 2020 Festival, covering the role of the Keeper of the Madhouse in Stavinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
Simon Grange – Leporello
‘The chance to try out important roles in a real theatre, with an orchestra, and with leading professionals in the industry – director, conductor and coaches, in a safe environment. Speaking personally, I would have been very nervous trying out a role like Leporello for the first time in a different kind of environment. The Clonter experience is different simply because of the amount of support available. There were always coachings if needed and supportive staff. I’ve not had that since music college.’
Stephen Fort – The Commendatore
‘It’s a chance to sing some great staple repertoire in a small theatre at the outset of a singer’s career. What was most rewarding was singing great music, working with an excellent conductor and director, and being surrounded by great singers on stage.’
Eliza Boom – Donna Anna
‘To have the opportunity to perform a full role with a company is invaluable and the more opportunities for that, the better. The camaraderie between the cast was so much fun, and to then take that into the stage with us was a wonderful experience. One aspect I really appreciated was getting to know the stage management team. It helps create unity between the whole team. Living on site is also great fun. Clonter offers experience and a warm and safe environment to learn in.’
Alexandra Lowe – Donna Elvira
‘(Do you think, with all the other opera companies that have emerged over the last few years that Clonter’s summer oper production is providing an opportunity that is still needed? – Very much so. There isn’t any other company that I can think of that bridges the gap between student and professional life as well as Clonter. I was fortunate to work for three companies this summer all offering opportunities for young talent or young artists/ Clonters cast was the only one with a full student emerging company…In my mind, there should be more opportunities for younger and less experienced singers. Clonter is doing something very unique in our field. The level of guidance from the director was outstanding – clearly an incredible director but above all, an educator. I’ve never learned so much from doing a role – it really felt like more than turning up, standing on your own two feet – it was like a professional course and performance. Amazing what you can achieve in such a short time of rehearsals. Being able to perform a challenging role in a safe space was the most rewarding aspect of this experience – I now have this under my belt and ready for a contract to do it again. The pressure of doing a role like this straight away would be a scary thought – but at Clonter they guided me through it with plenty of one to one coachings and support. The team at Clonter are incredibly generous, and provide a hard to top environment to work in. (Do you think your time at Clonter was well spent?) Absolutely – I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The main difference (About Clonter) is the working environment. Living on site allows us to really get deep into the process- and allows us to focus entirely. I love that it’s a northern company- there aren’t many! I love the living on site. You can see how much care and time goes into creating this opportunity for us. It offers a professional opportunity for young singers.’
Ben Cook – Stage Manager
‘For Stage Management, it’s a great opportunity for opera stage managers early in the careers to develop and build their experience on new pieces, and for people still in training to perhaps experience working on opera for the first time…learning different pieces is of great value. By which I mean to say that working on a Mozart piece like Don G can be a very different musical experience to working on a Puccini or Strauss, so the variety of pieces I work on is key to a young professional like myself. (The most rewarding aspect) Seeing the final product on stage and having large and appreciative audiences! And building great relationships on the road to achieving that.’
Until next week, take care!