One of opera's biggest bad boys seduces the stage in Opera Grand Rapids' production of Mozart's masterpiece, Don Giovanni. Black humor and sexual energy blend in this dark tale of a flagrant womanizer who stands defiant even in the face of hell.
Opera Grand Rapids
DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids
Feb. 8-9, 7:30 p.m.
$21-98; students/seniors 50 percent off
operagr.com, (616) 451-2741
Edgy and fast-paced, the show appeals to opera buffs and newcomers alike.
"Even people who do not know much about opera could enjoy the show because it moves pretty quickly and is something that really appeals to a younger audience," Production Manager Claire Root Benson said.
Although current and relevant, the show preserves the opera's historical authenticity by offering a classical telling.
"We are really doing a pretty traditional presentation," Root Benson said. "It's set in Seville in the seventeenth century, and the production will be for all intents and purposes set there ... which I think is the really smart way to do it for the characters because it is important who is upper and who is lower class, and that doesn't always translate so well into modern times."
The show's most enduring appeal for Root Benson, however, is the wonder of Mozart's music and the rich, humorous characters it develops.
"Mozart is one of the most famous composers who ever lived, and his operas, in my opinion, are some of his best works. He liked opera and did lots of work with different types of music for different types of characters. [Giovanni's servant] Leporello's musical style is a lot simpler and a lot slower to make him seem like a bumbling guy, while Don Giovanni's is a more lyrical, higher type of composition ... Even if you don't know what type of person a character is, you can tell through the music."
While the characters are complex and rich, the nature of the performance – as well as a stellar cast – promise plenty of opportunities for these diverse characters to shine their brightest.
"This is a traditional ensemble piece. Some operas have a very large chorus and just a few stars, but this is heavy on the lead and light on the chorus. It's a very cool cast and we are excited about them. There is a lot of comic relief such as the relationship between Don Giovanni and Leporello, which I always tell people are like Lefou and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast ... I think the singers will pull off that relationship really well."
Other Performing Arts Events
Caroline, or Change
WMU Theatre, Kalamazoo
Feb. 1,3, 8,10; show times at 2, 7 and 8 p.m.
wmich.edu/theatre, (269) 387-6222
Amidst the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement, mistreated black maid Caroline fights for dignity and respect. Realistic and fantastic elements combine as the stalwart single mother develops a special relationship with the needy child of her Jewish employer. As the friends surmount humiliation and heartache, their journey often provides flashes of inspiration and hope. But even changing times are ultimately unable to free Caroline from racial inequality, and eventually she must sacrifice her own pride to support those she loves. Sensational Motown and blues numbers bring this Tony-nominated musical to a tragic crescendo.
Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo
Feb. 26-27, 7:30 p.m.
millerauditorium.com, (269) 387-2300
Political protest and sexual revolution take center stage in the gritty rock musical, Hair. Often considered one of the most controversial Broadway musicals, the show is unafraid of using profanity, drugs and nudity to explore sensitive issues of naturalism and freedom. The story centers on the lives and loves of an exuberant, bohemian hippie tribe fighting against Vietnam conscription. As the tribe struggles to find peace in the midst of chaos, musical favorites "Aquarius," "Let the Sun Shine In" and "Good Morning, Starshine" bring irresistible excitement and energy.
Monty Python's SPAMALOT
Wharton Center, East Lansing
Feb. 1, 8 p.m.
whartoncenter.com, (517) 432-2000
Outrageous silliness and clever slapstick abound in this smash rip-off of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table takes the stage as never before alongside Vegas showgirls and killer rabbits. Jabs at Broadway, homophobia, divas and more accompany Arthur as he sets out on a delightfully ridiculous quest for the Holy Grail. Don Quixote, the Knights Who Say Ni and God are just a few of the colorful characters Arthur and the gang meet along the way.