One Hot Don Juan!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sat, 2021-04-24 04:44

Last Monday, Stuff published what purported to be a review of fresh-hatched Wellington Opera's Don Giovanni which had opened two nights earlier at the Opera House.

Headed "Wellington Opera brings the #metoo movement to the stage with Mozart's Don Giovanni," it was not so much a review as a grim, humourless scold, typical of Wellington Woke-Witches, labouring the point that "These days the ladies would call Don Giovanni (Christian Thurston) a jerk or perhaps a sexual predator, rather than an irresistible, irresponsible yet lovable cad, but hey! This is how things rolled in the 17th century." (I think she meant the 18th.)

It must have dawned on the editors at Stuff that there was something remiss about a review that consisted almost entirely of ideological hectoring and had almost nothing to say about the singing, the acting, the music, the orchestra or any other aspect of the actual production. For they then published a genuine review by singing legend Roger Wilson. They explained: "We ran a piece about Wellington Opera’s Don Giovanni in the paper and online on Monday, but as it did not address the music or performance, so we are publishing this review."

Mr. Wilson proclaimed Sara Brodie's production a "wonderful achievement"—which it was.

And, mercifully, it was anything but Woke (aside from the silly token T-Shirt with "NOPE" emblazoned on it. Why was that necessary when the "predator" gets his comeuppance in the end anyway?!). Quite the opposite. It was the opera Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte wrote. If anything it was sexed up. The characters groped, fondled and mounted each other with delicious unseemliness (thank goodness for the concept of consenting adults in public), singing beautifully all the while. Wine and women (not necessarily in that order) were proclaimed the glory of mankind (oh the gender unneutrality of it!).

The afore-mentioned Stuff "review" had admonished that Don Giovanni's seductees should be considered victims rather than conquests; but where Don Giovanni takes the form of lithe, handsome, bare-chested Christian Thurston, I should rather consider them extremely fortunate. Certainly, Mr. Thurston was altogether too delectable to be detestable.

The singing of all the principals, men and women, was outstanding, but being a tenor fiend I should like to single out Oliver Sewell's sublime renderings of Dalla Sua Pace and Il Mio Tesoro. I have recordings of these by many of the greats, including McCormack, Tauber and Wunderlich; Oliver's performances were as good as any and more impassioned than most.

Glorious music, gloriously sung from beginning to end, and, reassuringly, cheered to the echo by Thursday's capacity crowd. A hopeful sign that Woke-Fascism has not yet totally triumphed? Or will the Woke-Witches get even Wolfie cancelled in the end?

Woke-Fascism Comes to NZ Opera

Lindsay Perigo's picture

From Simon O'Neill today:

Dear Operatic Friends of Aotearoa

Regards from my Tristan filled studio here in Tamaki Makaurau. I hope Michael doesn’t mind me writing to you all.

I just wanted to follow up on the Radio NZ story this morning concerning the departure of the three directors from the New Zealand Opera board.

It was an honour to represent many fellow musicians and lovers of opera in Aotearoa and comment along with ex-head of music, Lindy Tennant Brown on the disturbing direction the remaining board and their support of the current General Manager is taking the art form in our country.

Commissioning key creatives who have no knowledge of the art form, who are openly ignorant and in one case alarmingly disrespectful of the art form is undoing the years of work the company has dedicated to making international level opera available in this country. I believe that this is a deliberate and considered move by the General Director. As is his decision to keep international level opera/music knowledge out of the senior leadership team, so that music can be sidelined and minimized.

New Zealand Opera and its General Director are the gatekeeper of the bulk of opera arts funding in our country (around 6.5 million dollars). We should all be concerned about where and for what reason our precious arts money is being spent.

I shall be appearing on TV3 this evening and Newstalk ZB with Heather du Plessis Allan at just after 5pm this afternoon to comment further.

It is really unfortunate that the headlines on opera in Aotearoa are diverted to this circus side show instead of focusing on the phenomenal success of our operatic singers worldwide - Manase Latu and Samson Setu at the Metropolitan Opera, Filipe Manu at Covent Garden, Eliza Boom at the Bayerischer Staatsoper, Madison Nonoa, Benson Wilson, not to mention the 2022 Opera National de Paris season with Amina Edris, Thomas Aitkens, Pene Pati and Simon O’Neill all in leading roles. It is a dreadful state of affairs that the many marketing people employed by New Zealand Opera , in addition to the PR agency also drawing precious funds away from the arts, are not motivated to promote this real success story.

Simon O’Neill ONZM

Sexual liberation is a form of political control

Bruno's picture

But at least it was accompanied by good music, I surmise, so at least there's some good to that, albeit it makes the perverse message all the more alluring.

I am going to go ahead and assume that Giovanni does not repent at the end in this "woke" version?

The Don

Graham Hill's picture

"But hey!" is nearly the most noxious phrase on earth.

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