I hope that Ciekiewicz gets many more opportunities to sing this role. You won't hear it sung better anywhere, and her outstanding dramatic ability helped us feel the heartbreak of Susannah's anguish and confusion.
At first glance, this opera based on the Thomas Mann novella of the same name doesn't lend itself to the stage which could, in part, be the reason Britten sat with the piece for so many years.
Incredible music, a beautiful set, and even stunning costumes too. Lisa Magill perfectly rounds out the production with her classic designs. She successfully fits the designs to the 18th century, and manages to have everyone looking their absolute best.
The over-the-top, 50's-horror-movie vibes of the opera's finale? Go ahead and laugh (some in the audience did). But an aria cataloguing thousands of victims of rape; a rapist sharply calling a survivor of his violence "You bitch!" – we should feel uncomfortable laughing at these moments.
As opera, and theatre in general, is forever evolving with the times, it's quite exciting to see new, cutting-edge approaches being used so successfully.
The characters begin as caricatures. Tamerlano (Lawrence Zazzo), a sadistic Southwestern oil baron who's a cross between Yosemite Sam and Daniel Day Lewis's tics in There Will Be Blood, has a grin (and mustache) glued to his face.
For generations of (male) musicologists, the character Don Giovanni has been something of an egalitarian sex god. These academics propped up their vision of Don-G-as-political-progressive with weak evidence, citing his willingness (compulsion?) to sleep with any woman, even fat, poor, and old ones.
Props must be given to Minnesota Opera for scheduling this family-friendly fan favorite, the seats were certainly filled. Hopefully the next generation of opera goers were hooked during this brief run!
It's a sour and tragic ending for an otherwise delightful love story. Moreover, the political subplot of the opera has a vagueness to it that leaves you wondering what its point of view is.
As Thomas Mallon said in the TalkBack after the performance, the suffering of LGBT+ people brought on by witch-hunting politicians in the 50s was unspeakable, and it is a place he hopes we never return to.