Future opera singers are easily identified at birth due to their multi-octave crying and graceful bows as they emerge from the womb. Check out how far these toddling tenors have come with this GrouponLive deal to see Don Giovanni, performed by the Pittsburgh Opera at the Benedum Center. For $35, you get one ticket for A- or B-level seating on Friday, November 9, at 8 p.m. (up to a $155.75 value). Doors open at 7 p.m., the show is recommended for viewers 13 and older.
A ladykiller like no other, Don Giovanni finds his lascivious ways may have greater repercussions than a continent-crossing trail of broken hearts. With beleaguered manservant Leporello in tow, Giovanni sets his sights on the women of Seville, starting with the inconveniently engaged Donna Anna. Disguised in a mask, Giovanni sneaks into her bedroom, but when the rake is found out, he is challenged to a duel by—and forced to kill—Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore. Troubles pile up when the scorned lover Donna Elvira makes an appearance, swearing revenge alongside Donna Anna’s fiancé, and a blasé Giovanni meets the naïve peasant girl Zerlina on the day of her wedding. A series of scuffles and close calls leads Giovanni to the graveyard where the Commendatore is buried, and following a mysterious warning, the antihero invites the statue above the murdered man’s grave to dinner—an invitation met with a stony nod—thereby sealing his fate.
A mood that oscillates between comic and tragic informs the songs in Mozart’s operatic masterpiece—sung in Italian with English texts projected above the stage. As Donna Elvira pleads with Leporello for a reason for the Don’s infidelity, the servile baritone belts out the playful Madamina, il catalogo è questo, recounting all 2,000 of Giovanni’s conquests. Early in the second act, Giovanni sweetly serenades Elvira’s maid from outside her window in Deh! Vieni alla finestra, accompanied by mandolin and attired in his own servant’s clothing. Finally, in a shockingly dark turn, the rumbling bass of the Commendatore comes back to haunt the scoundrel in La ci darem la mano, a duet performed by Barihunk Michael Todd Simpson.
Behind the Scenes
After visiting Seville himself, stage director Justin Way hit upon an inspired setting for Don Giovanni: a bullfighting ring. As he told the Post-Gazette last month, "You go into the bullring and you are rooting for this guy…and then you walk away from it and think, 'Why was I rooting for him?' He was killing the animals… you admire the bravery…the masculinity of this character, but all these qualities you've admired have brought death.”
The cloak of sparkling newness belies Benedum Center’s deep history in the theatrical world. Opened to regal fanfare in 1928, the theater then waded through the downs and ups of history until a $43 million restoration buffed its surfaces back to their former glory in 1984. Today, the 90 chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, the Grand Lobby’s mirrors and marble, and most of the 1,500 feet of brass rail throughout are all original. The centerpiece is the main chandelier, a 4,700-pound, 20-foot-high, 12-foot-wide behemoth that sparkles to remind visitors of the theater’s glory days.