Local returns to direct opera

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The story of the great lover Don Juan, is brought into the light of today’s modern world in Opera Otago’s production of Don Giovanni

The opera, which was first performed 230 years ago this year, is given a modern setting, which asks the question – is the Don a lover or a predator?

For musical director Jonathan Drummond, who is home from the United Kingdom to work alongside his father Prof John Drummond, (the opera’s stage director), the focus is on supporting the singers and making the most of Mozart’s music.

Working with a cut-down eight-piece orchestra, led by Dunedin Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Tessa Petersen, Drummond Jun is confident the players will produce a quality sound.

“We have a very experienced group of players, so I’m sure we will make the most of Mozart’s wonderful music,” he said.

“For me, Mozart’s operas are his most phenomenal achievement – his understanding of character and drama is incredible.”

Trained at the University of Otago, Jonathan Drummond now lives in Leeds in England, working as a freelance conductor, pianist, arranger and translater.

Leeds is strong in the arts, which has given him many opportunities, including working a musical director of Leeds Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and Opera North.

“It has been great to be able to come home to Dunedin and get stuck straight in to working on Don Giovanni,” he said.

Drummond and baritone Robert Tucker – who plays the title role of Don Giovanni – worked together 10 years ago on another Mozart opera, Cosi Fan Tutte

“It is wonderful to work with Robert Tucker again. His experience and skill is great.”

Alongside Tucker, the Don Giovanni cast features Adam Jon (Leporello), Ingrid Fomison-Nurse (Donna Anna), Robert Lindsay (The Commander), Ben Madden (Don Ottavio), Olivia Pike (Donna Elvira), Josephine Chan (Zerlina), and Scott Bezett (Masetto).

There is also an 11-strong chorus in support.

“The opera is coming together really well. There is a fantastic atmosphere in rehearsals,” Drummond said.

Don Giovanni will be staged for a short season, with performances at the Mayfair Theatre on August 18, 22, and 25, at 7.30pm, and a performance at 6pm on August 20.