The River Reporter, Arts & Leisure (Original Article here)
NARROWSBURG, NY — The curtain at the Tusten Theatre had to be held for 15 minutes while ushers furiously attempted to find seats for the sell-out crowd that came to the production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” on Sunday, August 3.
Long-time opera goers at the theatre couldn’t remember as big a crowd at this one. “Maybe it’s because this is the only time this opera will be held at the Tusten,” one of them said.
The Delaware Valley Opera (DVO) has scheduled a second performance of Mozart’s most famous opera at the Selig Theater at Sullivan County Community College on August 10 and a third at the Ritz Theatre in Hawley, PA on August 15, but that’s all.
“We’ll have to plan it differently next season,” said Jim Blanton, the DVO’s energetic artistic and musical director.
When the noisy audience finally got settled and the curtain opened, the company launched into one of the most entertaining musical experience I have ever had in the Tusten, and I go back quite a few years to when I was a member of the company. We never drew this big an audience back then.
Listening to the wonderful orchestra and cast, I could see that word had gotten around the river valley that the DVO had gotten it exactly right this time.
While no legitimate music critic worth his salt would ever use the word “perfect” in a review, this is as close as I have ever come to using it.
First and foremost, there was Eric Barsness playing poor old Leporello, Don Giovanni’s confused servant, a baritone. I have sung with Eric before but I don’t remember him doing such a magnificent job as this time. He was just short of perfect but not by much. The role is what we call a “fat” one, a part that can ruin your reputation if done poorly or make it if done well. In this instance, it was done very well. He not only sang the music flawlessly, his acting capacity as a “buffo” was superb. Besides, he hardly ever left the stage all night.
In the character of the Don, Jeremy Moore hit the mark well. He was more than sufficiently slimy and immoral, which the role calls for, and he sang it well, even more than well. He oozed, he lurched, he cajoled, he pranced and resounded in his rich baritone, one of Mozart’s most famous lechers. Moore, who has an impressive bio with performances in the United States and Europe, sang for the DVO for the first, and I hope, not the last time.
Erik Sparks, as Don Ottavio, sang two of my most favorite arias, “Dalla sua pace” and “Il mio tesoro” better than I ever could have sung it and better than most I have heard. His control and vocal placement never wavered.
In the role of Donna Anna was soprano Julie Ziavras, who wowed us in DVO’s production of “La Perichole” last season, wowing us again in this flamboyant portrayal of the wronged woman, resonating with piercing soprano anger that made the audience visibly shiver.
Jeanne-Marie Lowell, who sang the role of Donna Elvira, soared in the full vocal range from bitter vindictiveness to sweet forgiveness toward the dastardly Giovanni, letting her voice portray the sincerity and the confusion of the character.
Together, the lovers—Zerlina, played by Sibonglia Boyd and Massetto, sung by Jeffrey Seppala—richly rounded out this most competent and delightful cast, assembled and well directed by Jim Blanton, who also kept the 10-piece orchestra playing at its best.