Opera’s irresistible bad-boy seducer, Don Giovanni, is getting a whole different look at Lyric this fall. In the new production staged by Robert Falls, the Don will suavely work his wiles like a star of the silver screen, circa 1920s—but in living color.
Designer Ana Kuzmanic’s costumes “convey the differences between aristocracy and lower classes by giving him and the other nobility more tailored, crisper stylelines, sheen, and crystal clear colors,” she says. “Don Giovanni is visually transformed every time he enters the stage. When we see him in his full swing of seduction, he’s in a decadently colorful costume deeply contrasting with the chorus of peasants whose clothing is unstructured, made of fabrics that are textured, knobby, crinkled.”
Kuzmanic relished researching “the world of the opera as we created it, in a small Spanish town somewhere in the 1920s. I was greatly inspired by the works of art of the time and place we’ve chosen, and photos of that era.” She particularly enjoyed designing for the wounded women who are the Don’s prey. “All three are so passionate and express it in different ways,” says Kuzmanic. “I hope the designs do justice to how complex and specific these characters are! Donna Elvira is an emancipated woman of the 1920s, traveling by herself, determined to find Don Giovanni and have her revenge. Donna Anna is a Spanish aristocrat, very impulsive, religious and very passionate. And Zerlina is free spirited and shrewd. Zerlina’s wedding dress is influenced by flamenco performers and Spanish rural weddings from the turn of the century. Donna Anna’s costumes aren’t entirely rooted in the 1920s either—I wanted to portray the complex mélange of passion and conservatism of religious society through the layers and textures of her costumes.” The paintings of Velazquez inspired those designs. Contrastingly, “Donna Elvira wears an array of costumes with geometric, art-deco style lines and bold colors inspired by Pablo Picasso’s work from the 1920s and 1930s.”
Says Falls, “Audiences will see and hear an extraordinary company of singers, a very sexy and attractive group. I hope the world my designers and I have created will allow them to look at this piece with fresh eyes while still maintaining the terror and the beauty, the craziness of this opera in the best sense. I hope audiences will look forward to seeing this piece they think they’re familiar with in an invigorating new take.”
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