"Shattering in its impact": Jack Furness's production of Don Giovanni at Nevill Holt Opera, with Seán Boylan, Aoife Miskelly and Dingle Yandell

31 August 2021

The closing opera of Nevill Holt Opera’s 2021 season was Jack Furness’s production of Don Giovanni, staged in an outdoor theatre constructed especially for this summer’s performances. Both the innovative open-air production and the cast, featuring Seán Boylan in the title role, Aoife Miskelly as Donna Elvira, and Dingle Yandell as Commendatore, have been praised by critics:

“All the roles are performed with distinction. Seán Boylan’s Giovanni presents an ambiguous combination of villainy and heroism.”
“Aoife Miskelly offers a memorable Elvira, sketched in all her complexity.”
“Dingle Yandell strikes dread in his posthumous appearances as the Commendatore.”
“On paper, [Jack Furness’s] directorial notion of treating the nuptials of Masetto and Zerlina as a ‘unifying backbone’ to the piece, and incorporating folk rituals into the 17th-century visuals, might seem tangential; but in practice the production is entirely successful in holding the original’s blend of low comedy and high drama together in a convincing way. Don Giovanni’s undermining of societal structures is as clear as his purely selfish motivation: his eventual damnation is shattering in its impact.”
George Hall, The Stage, 20 August 2021
“First among equals are Anna Patalong as Donna Anna, and Aoife Miskelly as Donna Elvira, with both performances feeling as heartfelt as they are undoubtedly accomplished.”
“Seán Boylan is a far more foppish and likeable Don Giovanni than in many other portrayals of the character, where the brand of charm can feel more overtly sinister, but proves no less effective in the title role for that.”
“Benedict Nelson is also excellent as Masetto, as is Dingle Yandell as the Commendatore, with his voice often being amplified more than the others in the outdoors to create a ghostly effect.”
Sam Smith, Music OMH, 21 August 2021 **** ½
“Donna Elvira (Aoife Miskelly), Giovanni’s former lover, stars as she seeks to rebuild their relationship. Her pitch is solid and she is particularly effective in the more mellifluous moments of Act II.”
“As smoke billowed into the night air from a burning straw man, the disgraced Don Giovanni’s relationship with his guilty partner, Leporello, came to an end. And so, ends a lifetime’s devotion to womanising. With this very believable outcome, Nevill Holt’s remarkable production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni ends what has proven to be the bravest of outdoor country opera seasons in 2021. Director Jack Furness has worked wonders with a vast green mound in the middle of Leicestershire’s finest countryside.”
“Boylan performs enthusiastically with the seductive spell of the scion of a wealthy aristocrat. He is a fine baritone, having gained valuable experience whilst covering the role at Garsington in 2019.”
“the ghost of Commendatore (Dingle Yandell) […] presents a powerful admonishment to the lifestyle of those who have offended.”
Clive Peacock, Seen and Heard International, 21 August 2021
“Dingle Yandell made a dignified Commendatore with a striking physical presence which he really utilised when he returned at the end, a statue vividly brought to life and sounding equally threatening”
“Mozart's Don Giovanni is an opera which takes place in an urban landscape, much of it at night, so setting the piece outdoors in the middle of the afternoon might seem something of a stretch. But for their production of Mozart's Don Giovanni (seen Sunday 22 August 2021), Nevill Holt Opera and director Jack Furness have risen to the challenge. […] The production mixed the funny and the serious in fine manner. The result was one of the most satisfying productions of Don Giovanni that I have seen in a long time, lacking any annoying directorial pensées and creative rewriting of the plot.”
“Seán Boylan made a highly charming and plausible rogue, constantly changing his look and dress just as the character changes depending on who he is dealing with. This wasn't a nasty Don Giovanni, his sexual aura and personal charms were to the fore as was his complete amorality. Boylan had a whale of time in the way he constantly changed, yet was the same underneath, enjoying the chaos that he creates within the highly structured society that he belongs in.”
“Aoife Miskelly (in her role debut) was serious and intense. There was no doubt of her strong feelings, and 'Mi tradi' was finely done indeed, yet the character's intensity and involvement in the fates of others set her apart from the other aristocrats. This Donna Elvira was very much concerned over the fate of Zerlina and Masetto, and was rather an active element to the extent of appearing at Act One's masked ball dressed as a youth.”
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 22 August 2021
“Encapsulating the young energy and playfulness of the production was the impressive singer Seán Boylan whose Don Giovanni is not the mature, frankly revolting, rapist/seducer but more a young chap having a whale of the time chasing anything in a skirt. He has a beautiful voice and, as stated and with the other singers, I look forward to hearing it without electronic boosting.”
“Aoife Miskelly delights with Mozart’s luscious and thrilling arias for Donna Elvira, [giving] attention-grabbing performances of [her] show stopping Mozart arias”
“Dingle Yandell […] sounded and looked the part in this production.”
Mike Smith, Opera Scene, 21 August 2021

Read Jack Furness’s interview with Robert Hugill about Don Giovanni and his preparations for the production here.

Photo credit: Lloyd Winters

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