Maestro Turner Talks Don Giovanni
November 5, 2018
Virginia Opera’s next presentation, Mozart’s illustrious Don Giovanni, takes the stage this weekend, November 10 and 11 in the Center’s Concert Hall. This opera, which centers around a womanizing scoundrel, is both relevant and revered. We asked Virginia Opera Music Director Adam Turner to tell us how his company is getting ready for this performance and to give us his thoughts on opera’s notorious Don Juan.
How are you preparing for Don Giovanni?
Adam Turner: Any time a conductor approaches one of Mozart’s works, there is an abundance of humor and beauty, leading to endless discoveries and fresh insights. Don Giovanni melds the worlds of ‘opera seria’ and ‘opera buffa’, and Mozart’s soundscape reflects this constant back and forth between the serious and light qualities, particularly with the orchestra serving as sort of a ‘Greek chorus’, offering poetic and witty commentary throughout. From the first chords of the Overture to the end of Act 2 Finale, this technically challenging and virtuosic score demands the utmost of care and attention, and that’s where much of my preparation has been focused throughout the rehearsal process.
Many opera companies are presenting Don Giovanni this season. Why is this opera so relevant right now?
A.T.: It’s always interesting to re-visit a “warhorse” of the operatic canon like Don Giovanni, considered one of the top 10 most performed operas in the world. Why do any of us keep returning to the great masterpieces and classics of art and literature? – the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, Shakespeare’s tragedies, Beethoven’s Ninth, etc. There are a host of reasons these works have endured over generations, namely that they continue to invite further and deeper exploration. And now, more than ever, Mozart’s masterpiece offers us the opportunity to reflect upon current day conversations, particularly the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Mozart and Don Giovanni may not have changed, but WE have.
What are you most looking forward to in terms of presenting this opera?
A.T.: With this being Virginia Opera’s sixth presentation of Don Giovanni (the last time was 2010), I’m most excited to be offering our audiences a fresh cast of incredibly gifted singing actors. Starring in the titular role and making his VO mainstage debut, baritone Tobias Greenhalgh was recently featured as one of Opera News’s top “male singers to watch” in the 2018-2019 international season. Soprano Rachelle Durkin and mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen both join Virginia Opera after having recently appeared on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. This phenomenally talented, fresh-voiced cast truly represents the next generation of great singing.
What are you hoping audiences will take away from Don Giovanni?
A.T.: As our audiences re-visit Mozart’s 231-year-old masterpiece, I hope they reflect on how THEY might have changed since the last viewing, particularly in a digitally-enhanced and distracted world. How do these characters and stories resonate with our lives now? What new insights and discoveries will they catch—given a fresh set of performers—offering perhaps, a new opinion? There are boundless treasures to take from any performance of Don Giovanni, and I hope that audiences are thoroughly entertained and engaged by this production.