BYO’s Don Giovanni

Photo: Robert Workman via The Stage

Having only become a singer relatively late in life, I didn’t work with organisations such as British Youth Opera, but I am always pleased to support colleagues who can still qualify as young(!). To this end I was at a recent performance of BYO’s Don Giovanni, applauding a friend’s immaculate (electronic) mandolin in the Serenade and his classy continuo playing. I only recognised one of the cast but it struck me that there is a lot of musical talent out there and I hope our industry can provide for them all.

The Peacock Theatre is a good location in many ways for such a night – spacious, centrally-located with a decent bar and big enough pit for an opera orchestra. It’s less good because it can feel like a bit of a bunker. I’ve never been on-stage there so I don’t know how much wing-space there is, but the time it took to change the scenes in this show suggests that there may not be very much. We’re so used to seeing shows move uninterrupted from one scene to another that it felt slightly old-fashioned to have the curtain repeatedly come in and stop the action dead. At the other end of the spectrum is Richard Jones’ new Bohème for the Royal Opera, where the front-cloth is out for the whole show and the scenery for each Act is hauled into place in full view of the audience by an army of stage-crew, all the while snow gently falling on them.

It’s also interesting to observe how an interesting idea can sometimes become a bit of a handicap; quite literally if your character gets shot in the leg a good half hour before the end of the show and still has a lot of stage business to execute.