On Wednesday I saw my fourth Don Giovanni in as many months. Fortunately the music is so ravishing and the piece so full of potential that fatigue has not yet set in.
Co-Opera Co’s version was staged at The John McIntosh Centre, which is within the grounds of the London Oratory School near Earls Court. It is about to tour to Wolverhampton, Croydon, Yeovil, Bury St Edmunds and Wellingborough, among other venues.
It is a long time since I saw a Mozart opera in 18th century dress and this one, like ‘my’ other three Don Giovannis this summer, is set in the present: Yair Polishook as Leporello has fun with the famous list as a phone app. Everyone in the cast is strong: David Milner-Pearce gives us a fruity charismatic Don Giovanni (pictured above), Lisa Wilson sings beautifully as Donna Anna and Matthew Tomko brings suitable drama and bass depths to the Commendatore styled as a John Lennon lookalike - and there is some good work in the pit under Tim Murray.
Now in its fourth year, the Co-Opera Co is a co-operative opera company made up of members and associate members. The former are a group of like-minded, experienced professionals eager to pass on their expertise to the next generation, the associate members - professionals in the early stages of their careers. So, in a very real sense, this is a training organisation.
Since 2008 the company has worked with over 600 performers. There have been over 60 performances of five operas - The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, La Boheme, Carmen and Albert Herring - including this year’s Don Giovanni . Hansel and Gretel and The Magic Flute revival.
The idea is to give the associates an apprenticeship, in the form of paid work experience between college and a fully-fledged career. The cast of Don Giovanni included a GSMD graduate and people who have studied - or are studying at - RAM, Trinity Laban and various universities. Several came from, and had done part of their training, overseas.
I think Co-Opera Co is doing a fine job under artistic director, Kate Flowers. Almost inevitably, it has no outside funding of any sort. If anyone wants to help, the company welcomes donations to the Philip Langridge Bursary Fund which has recently become a registered charity.