St. Pete Opera sizzles with Mozart’s Don Giovanni

The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins the 2018-2019 season – “Why Can’t You Behave” – with Mozart’s immortal tale of passion and peril, the fiery Don Giovanni. This beloved masterwork will be presented at the Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave. N., Oct. 19, 21 and 23.

Based on the legend of the great lover and libertine Don Juan, Don Giovanni – with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte – premiered at the Prague Italian opera in 1787. It is an example of dramma giocoso, blending serious and comic action (also referred to as opera buffa).

“Not only is Don Giovanni handsome and seductive, but he is also wealthy and powerful,” says Maestro Mark Sforzini, St. Pete Opera’s executive and artistic director.  “He’s been getting away with bad behavior for quite some time, but all that is about to change. In the course of the opera, his past catches up with him, and he is ultimately brought to justice.”

The cast of Don Giovanni includes Argentina’s Gustavo Feulien as the titular romantic cad. Feulien, a baritone making his St. Pete Opera debut, has appeared in Tosca with the Maryland Symphony, Pagliacci with the New York City Opera, and with Germany’s Theatre Bremen in Le Nozze de Figaro and L´Elisir d´amore.

The aristocratic Donna Anna – a conquest Don Giovanni will come to regret – is sung by soprano Chelsea Lehnea,recently onstage in Carmen with the Sarasota Opera, and (as Lucia) in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Metropolitan Opera Guild. The peasant girl Zerlina is played by lyric coloratura soprano Kelly Curtin, previously in the St. Pete Opera productions Les Contes d’Hoffmann (as Olympia), and Die Zauberflöte (First Lady). Soprano Rachael Marino,singing the role of Donna Elvira (one of Don Giovanni’s bitter ex-lovers), has appeared with New Century Opera, Opera Tampa, at the Miami Music Festival and in several St. Pete Opera productions.

Don Giovanni’s servant, sidekick and never-silent partner in crime is the sarcastic Leporello; cast in the role isChristopher Nazarian, an Australian bass making his St. Petersburg debut.

The other principals are Sean Christensen (Don Ottavio); Adam Cioffari (Masetto); and Erik Kroncke (Il Commendatore).

Maestro Sforzini will conduct a 34-piece orchestra. Karl Hesser is the stage director. Set Design by Shane Cinal; costumes by Glenn Breed of Wardrobe Witchery; lighting design by Keith Arsenault.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21; and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23. Tickets, $20, $40, $55 and $75, are available online, or by phone at (727) 823-2040.

Written by Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung is the Florida-based author of Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay’s Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down and Phil Gernhard, Record Man. A veteran newspaper reporter and editor whose music journalism has appeared in numerous national and international publications, he is also featured as an essayist in the liner notes of more than 100 albums, by artists ranging from Cat Stevens (the four-disc “Cat Stevens Box Set”) to Stephen Stills, B.B. King, Black Oak Arkansas and Steve Winwood.