By Katie Webb
Last Friday night, January 28, the music department put on its opening night show of the opera “Don Giovanni.” Hofstra students arrived in style; many girls wore dresses and guys sported ties. By the time the soft music began to play, signaling to the audience the start of the show, Adams Playhouse was completely packed. An overwhelming feeling of support for the arts was almost tangible in the room.
The story of the opera surrounds the escapades of the Italian lothario, Don Giovanni. The opera is sung entirely in Italian with super script provided in English above the stage. While the prompter was sometimes out of sync with the singing, the cast’s brilliant vocals and vibrant performance conveyed everything the audience needed in order to follow the storyline. While the original opera, created by Mozart, is based in the seventeen hundreds, this updated version had an interesting twist: being placed in the 1950s. Don Giovanni had a classic James Dean leather jacket and greased hairstyle and the girls wore full poodle skirts.
The opera begins with Don Giovanni, a ruthless womanizer so seemingly suave he could charm a rock, and his trusted sidekick Leporello on the hunt for another innocent woman to torment. Don Giovanni takes a twisted pleasure out of stealing already betrothed women from their engagement parties and innocent young girls away from their fathers. Leporello aids Don Giovanni in his debaucherous deeds by acting as his lookout and patsy when things go wrong. The two actors, Stephan Ortiz as Giovanni and Alex Bonnin as Leporello, are a hilarious comedic duo. From slapstick to silly sauntering across the stage the two male leads have an amazing presence, which kept the crowd laughing all night.
As the production progresses, Giovanni manages to snare himself in many complicated situations, which eventually lead to his own downfall. In the first act he accidentally kills the father of a girl named Donna Anna, played by Christina Pecce, whom he seduced. Later, the scorned lover Donna Elvira, played by Kimberly Feltkamp, arrives to thwart Don Giovanni’s efforts to sleep with additional naive girls. When Anna and Elvira meet, they decide to team up in order to stop this villainous man. The girl they are looking to save is his latest conquest, the newly engaged Zerlina, played by Natalie Fabian. Yet, despite their noble efforts, Giovanni gets his girl once again.
By the end of the second act Giovanni’s cruel actions finally catch up to him. He must pay for his immoral ways by repenting to an animated statue in the form of the man he killed, or rot in hell with all the other sinners. Too prideful and much too unapologetic for the life he leads, Giovanni refuses to ask for forgiveness, and thus is sent to hell. The final words of the opera encompass the underlying moral of the work that evil-doers meet evil ends.
Not only was the opera considerably humorous, but the orchestra and the performers’ vocals were phenomenal. All the cast members had exceptional Italian accents. The three female leads Pecce, Feltkamp, and Fabian had voices so powerfully moving that they made the show. The artistic director, Isabel Milenski, and conductor, Jorge Parodi, did an absolutely incredible job pulling this opera together, a fine piece of art without question.