Domingo is leading a Wagner opera in Bayreuth during the summer of 2018. The work of choice? “Die Walküre,” an opera he has performed previously in his career.
Despite the fact that Hawkins’ career is taking off on television and film, he decided to return to Broadway because of the character he plays in Six Degrees of Separation and the opportunity to continue to grow as an actor. He explains, “I grew up a theater nerd — I actually grew up singing in the church first, that was my first love — and then in high school I was in musical theater and then, of course, they cut it due to funding, and then I ended up going into straight theater at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in D.C. I just think there’s something about coming back to the stage, man, just sharpening that tool and keeping that muscle firing, you know what I mean? And this character is one of those that’s sort of like a gymnast or an acrobat or an athlete — like, he’s a different guy in every scene — and I just thought it would be fun to do that right after coming off of a TV show. Fun, or scary as hell, and why not do it if you know if it scares you? So I just wanted to challenge myself and see where it took me, and I feel like a lucky guy.”
James Blachly is Music Director of Geneva Light Opera.
What is true, and what is real? In Mozart’s music, there is always more than meets the eye, and very little that is black and white. Don Giovanni is, in some sense our hero, since it is his story. But he is also the villain; the original title of the opera was “The Scoundrel Punished.” We come to a performance of this opera knowing that he will get his just reward — that he will be dragged to a fiery punishment at the end. Even so, the story is told in such a way that many people find themselves rooting for him until the end, while also cheering when he is dragged to hell.
Every production of Don Giovanni has to decide how much to portray the title character as a lover or a murderer, as a hero or villain. Ultimately, Don Giovanni is a study in contradictions. He is both a nobleman of high station and a callous brute whose servant complains of his sloppiness while he eats; he is seductive and cruel; rash and cunning; foolish, risking all for seemingly meaningless victories, and also ultimately fearless even in the face of death.
We at the Geneva Light Opera have tried in our production of Don Giovanni to reveal all of the above, and more, in this marvelous work. Under the expert stage direction of Phil Lauriat, our internationally renowned cast and orchestra will entice the audience with superb music-making and dramatic insights.
According to The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.
What are the particular challenges/excitements of working with an orchestra/ensemble?
I think the biggest challenge is to be able to ignite in my players and singers the desire to make the best music they are capable of. The task of the conductor can’t be micromanaging musicians all the time. Of course, there is a bit of that during rehearsal, and it is necessary to have acute ears and be precise. But then on the stage we need to let go. And there is the challenge, to achieve control and freedom at the same time. Needless to say, this is also the most exciting part of the job!