Atlanta Opera rounded out its current season, after taking a chance on Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket in March, with Mozart’s Don Giovanni (seen April 28). While the staging was rather bland and involved only basic traffic patterns, the most stellar aspect of the production was conductor Arthur Fagen’s presence on the podium. The past six years have seen a string of guest conductors at the opera, some fantastic and others forgettable. But Atlanta Opera has at last committed to an internationally recognized music director who has the ability to bring out the best from the musicians in the pit. The AO orchestra played seamlessly and with momentum on this night.
Eduardo Chama has sung Leporello more than half a dozen times with other regional companies; here, he portrayed Giovanni’s servant as a pot-bellied, disgruntled ally. Soprano Pamela Armstrong made her Atlanta Opera debut singing Donna Anna with a voice that is translucent. Vocally, she was a perfect fit for her Don Ottavio, Nicholas Phan, and the first duet, “Fuggi, crudele” was gorgeously executed and choreographed. Don Ottavio is a tricky role in every way, as he can often seem tiresome in his devotion to his fiancée. Phan quickly won us over, stepping far downstage as the curtain lowered behind him for that great aria “Dalla sua pace,” which he sang with a legato line that allowed for thrilling nuances of timbre.
Soprano Melody Moore sang Donna Elvira with both heart and humor. Elvira is a character who finds her social equals in Anna and Ottavio yet is so undone by Giovanni’s deception that she lacks composure — a quality evident within the fioritura passages that Mozart composed for her. Moore possesses a full-bodied coloratura voice and expert dramatic skills well suited to the portrayal of an eccentric Elvira.
Smaller, yet significant, roles were well assigned. The Commendatore was sung by a commanding Andrew Kroes. Zerlina and Masetto were soprano Angela Kloc and bass-baritone Brent Davis.
The charming villain himself was sung by Italian bass Andrea Concetti, who makes a living on a steady regimen of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti. He sings Leporello more frequently than Giovanni — but not the pot-bellied kind, as one can tell from a provocative online video of him singing the catalogue aria at the 2009 Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata. Here in Atlanta, Concetti was vocally convincing as the libertine, despite his diminutive stature, and manipulated everyone who crossed his path — until his ultimate demise.
The uninspired sets, designed by R. Keith Brumley and courtesy of Lyric Opera of Kansas City, consisted of dull archways and skyline silhouettes. Essentially the setting did nothing to evoke Seville. Nevertheless, the evening’s singing was more than satisfying — it was compelling, and the production’s musical values were redemptive.