Hastings Philharmonic: Don Giovanni

St Mary in the Castle, Hastings, 3 & 4 June 2017

The 2017 Opera Academy brought us two different casts of young singers to St Mary in the Castle last weekend for a concise and well-focused presentation of Mozart’s masterpiece. The small orchestral ensemble provided excellent support throughout, even at the end of act one where Mozart assumes there will be three orchestras available! The musicians were placed behind the action, which made timing more complex but it was much to Marcio da Silva’s credit that there were very few slips in either performance.

Two singers appeared on both evenings, which may have eased their rehearsal time, and they certainly provided some of the most polished performances. Wagner Moreira was an exemplary Ottavio, not only in the lyricism he provided, but also in his naturalistic approach to his stage presence. It was a pity he was not allowed Dalla sua pace in Act 1 though he gave us a fine Il mio Tesoro in Act 2. Similarly Vedat Dalgiran’s Commendatore made a strong impact given the limited time he is on stage.

On the first evening Camilla Jeppeson and Timothy Patrick were well paired as Zerlina and Masetto, creating a very credible relationship which allowed us to experience their shifting emotional patterns with ease. Her Batti, batti was a highlight of Act 1. The next day, Gislene Ramos and Will O’Brian made an equally positive impact with Vedrai carino gently seductive on a slow burn. We could see why this Zerlina was no push-over.

Gheorghe Palcu gave us a personable, wide-boy Leporello though his diction was often lost in the acoustic of the building. Of the nobility, Rosemary Carlton-Willis’ Elvira raged impressively and there was a subtle integrity to Eleni Komni’s Anna. Her handling of Non mi dir brought clarity to the complex relationship she has with Ottavio.

On the first night Neylson Crepalde conducted, stepping in to play guitar for the serenade, and doing both jobs with admirable skill. Marcio da Silva’s own precise conducting style kept the ensembles tightly together and gave us a convincing tableau at the end.

The main focus of the event was to give these singers a platform and, as noted above, many took it with fine demonstrations of the operatic art. Hopefully their careers will blossom.