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Following the death of Sir Charles Mackerras, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra dedicated the Opening Concerts of its 2010/11 Season – concert performances of Mozart’s Don
Giovanni – to the memory of the Orchestra’s beloved and venerable Conductor Laureate.
The performances – at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Thursday 7 October and Glasgow’s City Halls on Friday 8 October – were conducted by the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati, and featured a world-class line-up of soloists.

Sir Charles and the SCO were internationally renowned for their performances and recordings of Mozart’s music, including CD releases of seven Mozart operas and the recent multi-award winning disc of the composer’s last four symphonies. Don Giovanni was of particular significance to Sir Charles: in 1991 he conducted a new production of the opera at the re-opening of the Estates Theatre in Prague, scene of the work’s premiere, to mark the bi-centenary of Mozart’s death.

Roy McEwan, Managing Director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, said: “This will be the SCO’s first season without Sir Charles, and the opening concerts are a perfect opportunity for us to pay tribute to his life and career. We are particularly delighted that the Orchestra and Chorus along with our Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati will celebrate the many years of music–making we shared with Sir Charles through these performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which – following its performance at the 1995 Edinburgh International Festival – was one of the finest opera recordings we made together.”

Mozart Don Giovanni at Glasgow

Florian Boesch (Don Giovanni), Maximilian Schmitt (Don Ottavio), Kate Royal (Donna Elvira), Susan Gritton (Donna Anna), Malin Christensson (Zerlina), Vito Priante (Leporello), David Soar (Masetto), Rafal Siwek, (Commendatore),
SCO Chorus & Chamber Orchestra/Robin Ticciati

Glasgow City Halls,
7 October 2010

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's concert performances of Don Giovanni were dedicated as a memorial tribute to their late Conductor Laureate Sir Charles Mackerras, with whom the orchestra had been recording for Linn right up until his death. It was conducted by the SCO's Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati, the extension of whose contract had just been announced.

Ticciati greatly impressed in the Don, and was served by a magnificent starry cast, and by the superb acoustic of the City Halls, unrivalled in Great Britain.

A word about the arrangements; the modestly priced programme was supplemented by a full bi-lingual libretto in good-sized clear print, and the lights were left on at just the right levels for following it whilst enjoying the interractions of the protagonsts on stage. It was great to be freed to concentrate on the music, for once, without the superimposition of the latest aspiring opera director's "concept"...

This was a Don Giovanni to relish; it might well have been the basis of a new recording, but for the fact that Sir Charles had recorded it with the SCO in 1995; those acclaimed discs were on sale [Telarc 80726; now 3 discs for price of 1] and I have been able to confirm high expectations of it. No libretto is included with this boxed set, which has notes in miniscule print; perhaps the SCO might supply copies of theirs produced for this month's tribute performances in Glasgow and Edinburgh?

Hearing the SCO under Ticciati and the BBCSSO under Donald Runnicles at City Halls left us in no doubt that Scotland has world class orchestras, their Glasgow concerts as fine as anything to be heard in London.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also The Guardian - - Florian Boesch's Giovanni was as defined a characterisation as any fully staged performance - -
and living.scotsman's review of SCO's Don Giovanni at Endinburgh [Editor]
- - Vito Priante's Leporello was a likeable, spivish gofer to Florian Boesch's magnificently arrogant and sneeringly sinister Giovanni, both vocally stunning. Maximillian Schmitt's luminous tenor imbued softer hues as Don Ottavio, with David Soar capturing Masetto's hapless innocence, and Rafal Siwek imbuing the Commendatore with awesome gravitas. - - The graceful purity of Kate Royal as Elvira, the infectious delicacy of Malin Christensson's Zerlina - - and Susan Gritton's worldly Anna, all gave lustre to Mozart's kaleidoscopic masterpiece.

Don Giovanni ENO

Iain Paterson, Katherine Broderick, Sarah Redgwick, Brindley Sherratt, Robert Murray, Sarah Tynan [group picture R]
and Matthew Best
Conductor Kirill Karabits; Director Rufus Norris; Set Designer Ian MacNeil; Costume Designer Nicky Gillibrand; Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin; Projections Designer Finn Ross; Movement Director Jonathan Lunn; Translator Jeremy Sams

Coliseum, London 6 November 2010

Let FT's report stand for the majority negative reviews of this latest staging of the Don: - - Call the undertakers, pronto. Here is another one for the Don Giovanni graveyard*****

We were bemused and often irritated from the outset (the Overture demanded shut-eyes...) and debated leaving halfway, but stayed the course and enjoyed some of the antics on view in this dramma molto giocoso; but they were tilted too far towards musical theatre, which may appeal to new audiences. The group pcture is of the survivors who came up through the same trapdoor that took the don down to hell...

However, we found much to agree with in Melanie Eskenazi's piece for OMH, more sympathetic thanmost, especially about Sarah Redgwick's debut, with "stage confidence, forthright phrasing and ringing tone" which gave consistent pleasure. No wonder Anne Evans had been reluctant to give way to her understudy on doctor's orders!

Redgwick's Elvira took the palm - she was far the best of the ladies - and that last minute first-night chance heralds a brilliant career. At the end of the black comedy, she held in her hand the symbol of remaining belief in the possibility of love, a heart-shaped balloon that ascended after everyone else's had been crushed; corny maybe, but for us it struck a chord.

Kirill Karabits' "elegant, classical account of the score" sounded fine to us from the Dress Circle (and far better than the recent heavy Idomeneo), but we guessed there'd be complaints from the stalls... " - - tidy and efficient - - a tendency towards fast tempi - - the string sound was simply too small" [MusicalCriticism].

It was not so for us, and neither "sluggish" [What'sOnStage] nor too fast...

But at the heart of Rufus Norris's production remains the unresolved operatic conflict primo la parola/dopo la musica or vice versa, both succumbing to the ever-present risk of visual overload with unintegrated staging whims which tended to overwhelm both of them.

We 21st C listeners can do our own "updating", and did so whilst listening undistracted at Glasgow (v.s.), where Mozart emerged as the hero of the whole enterprise.

But for an infinitely more successful, and commensurately inexpensive, take on Don Giovanni earlier this year, see our review of Stephen Barlow's production at Holland Park, and hope it may be revived in due course...

Alexa and Peter Grahame Woolf

Sarah Sedgwick with Ian Paterspn - photo Donald Cooper

ENO's next will be The Dog's Heart, 20 November, with encouraging advance images






Mackerras Memorial Concert
& Janacek
Trinity College of Musicat Blackheath Halls, London, 21 October 2010

Planned by Sir Charles [R] - who had worked closely with Trinity and was expecting to conduct it himself - this event was taken over by Sian Edwards, who led a rousing performance of Janacek's Sinfonietta. Its ten trumpets raised the roof to great effect, perhaps even to be heard by the concert's dedicatee in the beyond...

But there was no attempt to reflect Mackerras's pioneering work on Mozart, when he had been at the forefront of the period instrument movement.

The Mozart Mass in C minor was given by massed choir singing their heads off with full orchestra, reminiscent of the bad old days when Messiah used to be performed with casts of hundreds...

Intolerable, soon after hearing a great account of the work wth appropriate period style forces at High Mass in the vast Jesuit Church in Lucerne...