Simply not as good as Mozart’s: RCM’s Don Giovanni Tenorio reviewed

Henna Mun, 2023 Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel scholar, is "delightfully sparky in the role" of Zerlina, according to Richard Bratby's review of the Royal College of Music's production of 'Don Giovanni Tenorio.'


In Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, Don Giovanni finds himself in hell, chatting to the sentient Statue that dragged him to his doom. ‘It sounds rather flat without my trombones,’ admits the Statue, conceding that once you remove the genius of Mozart from the mix, you’re left with a trite (if titillating) morality tale. You could draw the same conclusion from the opera Don Giovanni Tenorio, by Giuseppe Gazzaniga (1743-1818), and if you haven’t heard of him you might wonder why not. Institutional racism? Patriarchal hegemony? Not this time. Gazzaniga was a Neapolitan composer of perfectly adequate operas that simply aren’t as good as Mozart’s.

Anyway, Don Giovanni Tenorio made an amusing end-of-term show at the Royal College of Music. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a Don Giovanni premiered in 1787, eight months before Mozart’s? The fun lies in comparing and contrasting the two. How will Gazzaniga deal with Donna Elvira? When will the Commendatore arrive? Here’s the Catalogue Aria – funny, it sounds just like Mozart’s. Hang on, it actually is Mozart’s! Possibly to enhance the experience for the student cast, director Louise Bakker decided to insert a series of arias by Salieri and Mozart into Gazzaniga’s score.