The week in classical: Don Giovanni Tenorio; Ariodante – review

Henna Mun, a 2023 Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholar at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, starred as Maturina in the RCM Opera Studio's winter production of Giuseppe Gazzaniga's 'Don Giovanni Tenorio'. Reviewed by The Guardian, Henna's performance in an 'angry duet' with fellow soprano Georgia Melville, as Donna Elvira, received particular praise and highlighted the standard of excellence taught at institutions like RCM. Henna is one of two scholars to be awarded the 2023 Bocelli-Jameel Scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London, which was launched in 2019 to support students to overcome barriers and access world-class training at the RCM.


In this alternative Don Giovanni, I saw the first of two casts. The Scottish tenor Marcus Swietlicki was light-voiced and suave in the title role, his fellow Scot, baritone Daniel Barrett, comical as his sidekick, Pasquariello. There was no weak link. Louise Bakker’s staging (with designs by Becky-Dee Trevenen, lighting by Joshua Gadsby) was traditional – wigs and frock coats – but deft. The orchestra, under the experienced baton of the RCM’s director of opera, Michael Rosewell, negotiated the many rapid scurries and string flourishes with stylish accuracy.

This take on the story, still shot through with menace, is more lighthearted than Mozart’s. The predominantly sunny disposition is partly explained by much of the music being in the major key (Mozart set the tone, from the opening chords, in the minor). In the habit of Italian opera at that time, music from elsewhere has been added: from Mozart himself (Leporello’s “Catalogue” aria) and by Antonio Salieri. The full cast deserves praise, especially those responsible for the angry duet: Australian soprano Georgia Melville (Donna Elvira) and as Maturina, her rival in love, South Korean soprano Henna Mun. Having put so much work into learning this unfamiliar music, let’s hope they all get a chance to perform it again in their careers.

The Guardian