Los Angeles Opera made some cast changes for the last two performances of Don Giovanni, the most noteworthy being the addition of Angela Meade as Donna Anna (Julianna Di Giacomo played the role for the first five performances). The winner of the 2011 Richard Tucker Award and the Met’s 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Award, Ms. Meade brought her talents fully to bear at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Wednesday night.
She has a radiant tone to her voice which she deftly controls to maximum dramatic effect, expressing vulnerability and sweetness with a beautifully light touch one moment and intensity in rage and anguish the next, punctuating moments with some serious vocal power. If there were one or two lines where she could sound a tad blustery at full volume, those were rare and easy to overlook. Her rendition of Donna Anna’s second act, “Crudele! . . . Non mi dir,” was an absolute show stopper, easily getting the largest ovation of the night from the enthusiastic crowd. Let’s hope she comes back soon, preferably for more than two performances at a time.
With Micaëla Oeste taking over for Roxana Constantinescu, the company traded a charming brunette Zerlina for a charming blonde one. Ms. Oeste, in her LA Opera debut, needed a few minutes to settle in, but once she did, her singing and acting seemed to gain confidence as the night progressed. She fit in quite nicely, acquitting herself well in both rapid-fire recitative and long-lined arias.
Plácido Domingo dashed back downtown after an appearance on the “Tonight Show” to take over conducting duties. He tended to favor slower tempi than did James Conlon when the Music Director led the previous performances, stretching and lingering over phrases with regularity. It was often distracting during the first act, during which it seemed on more than one occasion that Mr. Domingo was at crossed-purposes with his singers on stage. Perhaps it was just a matter of getting a feel for one another; in the second act, the pit and the stage synced up much better.
Overall, the entire performance was more nuanced and detailed than the first time I had seen this production, the sign of a cast that has gelled nicely over the course of this run. Some of the concerns I had previously pointed out looked to have been addressed. The set design is still not my favorite, but it was tightened up and lit better.
The final performance of Don Giovanni will be on Sunday, October 14, at 2pm.
Los Angeles Opera: September 22 — October 14, 2012; Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Don Giovanni: Ildebrando D’Arcangelo
Donna Anna: Julianna Di Giacomo*
Donna Anna: (Oct. 10, 14) Angela Meade*
Donna Elvira: Soile Isokoski
Don Ottavio: Andrej Dunaev*
Leporello: David Bizic*
Zerlina: Roxana Constantinescu
Zerlina: (Oct. 10, 14) Micaëla Oeste*
Masetto: Joshua Bloom*
Commendatore: Ievgen Orlov
Conductor: James Conlon
Conductor: (Oct. 10, 14) Plácido Domingo
Production: Peter Stein*
Director: Gregory A. Fortner
Scenic Designer: Ferdinand Wögerbauer*
Costume Designer: Moidele Bickel*
Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler
Choreographer: Peggy Hickey
Fight Choreographer: Ed Douglas
* LA Opera debut artist
- Angela Meade and Andrej Dunaev: photo by Robert Millard (courtesy of Los Angeles Opera)
- Micaëla Oeste: photo by Dario Acosta