The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” meets “The Sopranos” when an all-female mob gets even in Fresco Opera Theatre’s new show this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights | March 19, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following information about what promised to be another unusual take, perfect for the age of the MeToo movement, on the standard opera repertoire from Fresco Opera Theatre.

The show takes place on this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Promenade Hall of the Overture Center. Dinner table seats are $50 and other seats are $35.

We are doing a production called the “The Sopranos: Don Giovanni’s Demise,” which is our re-imagining of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”

We feature an all female-mob, who put a hit on “The Don.” And who can blame them? “The Sopranos” is the story of a score settled, and a scoundrel silenced. Don Giovanni is a rat, who has pushed the family too far. And the family has put out a hit on him.

“This is a fun production, which retains the music of “Giovanni,” but with a slightly different take using 20th-century Mafia imagery. (You can hear the dark and ominous Overture to the “Don  Giovanni” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

“We have a strong cast, featuring Ryan White as Don Giovanni, Erin Sura as Donna Elvira, Katie Anderson as Donna Anna, Ashley McHugh as Zerlina and Diana Eiler as Leporello. We are excited to have Vincent Fuh as our piano accompanist, and Melanie Cain will be directing.

“We will have limited seating on stage, which will be tables on which meals will be served, adding to the ambiance. Fresco is very excited to present our interpretation of this classic tale, including the timeless music.”

Adds director Melanie Cain:

“I’ve always been intrigued with the way Mozart portrayed female characters in his operas. They are daring, courageous and bold. He also was not afraid to give the women who were from the non-privileged classes, such as his spunky maids, the task of fixing all their bosses messes and oftentimes saving the day.

“Don Giovanni” resonates so well in today’s social landscape. The idea of women uniting to take down the males who take advantage, suffocate and demoralize the female gender runs through the core of this opera.

“What better way to portray a bunch of strong women than to have them run the male dominant world of the mob? As I was thinking about the look of this show, I came across the art of Tamara de Lempicka, a painter of the Art Deco era, best known for her portraits of powerful women. She was a brave, strong-willed openly bisexual artist who wasn’t afraid to be herself at a time that wasn’t accepted.

“Not only will you hear some vivacious female singers, you will see many of Lempicka’s works displayed throughout the production, which really resonates not only with this show, but in the way I like to create opera: “I live life in the margins of society and the rules of normal society don’t apply to those who live on the fringe.””

For tickets and a plot summary, here is the link to Overture Center:

https://www.overture.org/events/sopranos?fbclid=IwAR280iCL1zZLagO31ke0AUXYrYtrDHlr2cMyRaPzksrg8HaL4cK3FEg-mQ8

And for more information about Fresco Opera Theatre, here is link to its home page:

http://www.frescooperatheatre.com/?fbclid=IwAR0_Oq62sQ2I41z79HMYlnm7XDmMFqZKKiButDW5OmWa4kUX5oOH02SJ6Ws


Posted in Classical music
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27 Comments »

  1. Dr. Cain’s words are the words she has chosen to express herself and her interpretation of any work she directs in the most accurate way she can. To undermine the directors own words with doubts of such menial value is troll behavior in the least, and outright rude.

    This show will be fantastic! I wish you all in the prod tion the very best success.

    Comment by Cattmristoff — March 20, 2019 @ 10:55 am

  2. This has been disturbing but it is wonderful to see friends co workers stand up for anyone they love , Frank is Melanie’s husband and I want to applaud him for standing up for his “lady, his love” Melanie…He took a stand and invited fflambeau to the production to meet HIM face to face…When a Man loves a Woman she can do no wrong……this Man loves his woman his wife his life. Melanie is blessed..

    Comment by sandi spink — March 20, 2019 @ 10:01 am

  3. fflambeau must be real fun at parties.

    Comment by LenoreEvermore — March 20, 2019 @ 12:16 am

  4. I didn’t intend for my comment to be a personal attack at all, and I’m sorry if you felt that it was.

    I simply wanted to highlight the work Melanie has put in to further her musical knowledge, as well as the many contributions she’s made to the community. We are so proud and happy that Fresco Opera Theatre has been a part of Madison’s diverse, vibrant arts community for the past 10 years.

    It’s great that you are so enthusiastic about classical music, and we would love it if you would come see the production for yourself: https://www.overture.org/events/sopranos.

    Comment by KV — March 19, 2019 @ 11:12 pm

  5. Here is perhaps what Dr. Cain meant (and should have written to begin with):

    “Although Mozart did not write the words/or form the characters in the opera Don Giovanni, he did write the music for it. I admire what I see as his portrayal of women through his musical characterizations in the opera.”

    Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 11:09 pm

    • EVERYTHING MUST BE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE OR IT ALL SUCKS AND IS GARBAGE. (Insert sarcasm here). To be fair, this article was about promoting a show, not a history lesson.

      Comment by CT — March 19, 2019 @ 11:50 pm

  6. “I’ve always been intrigued with the way Mozart portrayed female characters in his operas.”
    Sorry, but Mozart wrote the for MUSIC for operas like Don Giovanni, the libretto/story was written by someone else completely, Lorenzo Da Ponte. If you know so little about music, what kind of a product can you turn out?”

    Since the conversation has regressed into everything fflambeau had hoped it would, I wanted to post the comment which brought us to this point. Feigning incredulousness after lobbing “if you know so little about music” is disingenuous. Of course you knew what sort of response you would get, because this is what you do. You stir the pot. You really aren’t interested in the music – you can’t be. But you skated a little too close to the edge when feigning ignorance at describing the director – a woman – as a “sacred cow.” You are intentional in your responses, and we are feeding you what you want. And if that is what makes you happy, so be it. But don’t act like you don’t know what you are doing. That truly exposes who and what you are.

    Comment by Jeff Turk — March 19, 2019 @ 10:55 pm

  7. As for Dr. Cain, her latest post still shows she doesn’t understand the difference between the roles and work of Mozart and Da Ponte.

    And I didn’t call you a “cow”. Please reread.

    For your information, Mozart had his hands quite full just writing the music for the opera, let alone writing the story/words. The opera appeared some two weeks after it was originally scheduled. For his part, Da Ponte took much of the characterizations, which you seem to attribute to Mozart, from other, often far earlier, productions and people. See Daniel Freeman, Mozart in Prague (2013).

    Perhaps you do know more about Tony Soprano?

    Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 10:24 pm

    • Then why did you put “sacred cow” in quotes?

      Comment by Jeff Turk — March 19, 2019 @ 10:33 pm

  8. It must be exhausting to try and correct anyone who mispronounces a composer name in casual conversation. Flame Bow, you don’t get us and you never will. Save yourself the frustration and concentrate on doing what you do best – listening to obscure recordings in your mother’s basement.

    Comment by Jeff Turk — March 19, 2019 @ 9:44 am

  9. What a great take on a classic! I love the idea of spinning the story to make the women the center, and it seems like the opera was essentially sitting and waiting for an opportunity like this. A creative directing vision creates great art!

    We are lucky to have such great minds and talents working on entertainment for us here in Madison! I am always happy to support fantastic art and local artists: looking forward to seeing the show!

    Comment by DC — March 19, 2019 @ 9:09 am

  10. @Fflambeau

    Mozart wrote MUSIC?? And here I thought he was just another chimney sweep making his way across London!

    (Also, everything Melanie Cain said)

    Comment by RG — March 19, 2019 @ 8:51 am

  11. Troll’s attempt to school professional = white noise.

    Comment by Kelly Liechty — March 19, 2019 @ 8:49 am

  12. Why do hate so much Fflambeau? It must be quite exhausting for you to constantly be trying to call people out with your “ apparent” musical brilliance! Not that I need to prove anything to you, but…Mozart was a master at portraying character through his music. The composer had a great deal to do with the character portrayal and worked closely with the librettist. He didn’t just “write the music” A quote from Mozart when asked of his relationship with Da Ponte, “The best thing is when a good composer, who understands the stage enough to make sound suggestions, meets an able bodied poet.” Also, be brave enough to put your real name out there, otherwise your just a cowardly troll! Good day!

    Comment by Dr. Melanie Cain — March 19, 2019 @ 8:30 am

    • Verdi was famous for taking over libretti and was known to lock librettists in the room until he got what he wanted or sent them packing.

      Comment by bbead — March 19, 2019 @ 9:45 am

      • We are talking about Mozart, not Verdi.

        Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 7:22 pm

    • Wow! Talk about personal attacks.

      You are so “great” that you apparently deem yourself beyond criticism. I didn’t attack you personally, just the stupid words you wrote. By the way, your quotation, generalized as it is, does not show or prove that Mozart was the person who gave any depth to the characters in his operas. Is that the best you can come up with?

      Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 7:31 pm

      • Oh stahp! You are always flailing about when WTE posts a Fresco related blog. You know what you are doing. Jeez… this is EXACTLY what you want.

        Comment by Jeff Turk — March 19, 2019 @ 8:01 pm

      • Mr. Turk, Try writing in standard English. I cannot make out what it is you are babbling about.

        Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 10:09 pm

  13. “I’ve always been intrigued with the way Mozart portrayed female characters in his operas.”

    Sorry, but Mozart wrote the for MUSIC for operas like Don Giovanni, the libretto/story was written by someone else completely, Lorenzo Da Ponte.

    If you know so little about music, what kind of a product can you turn out?

    Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 6:14 am

    • Melanie Cain has a doctorate in music performance. She built an opera company from the ground up and has kept it thriving for 10 seasons. She owns a successful music studio where she educates the next generation of performers. She was named as one of the best classical performers in Madison Magazine’s Madison’s Best list.

      If you know so little about the people you choose to comment about, what kind of argument can you turn out?

      Comment by KV — March 19, 2019 @ 9:49 am

      • Lots of people have advanced degrees and know very little. Cain should have known this about opera.

        Sorry to attack your “sacred cow” but the idiotic words are yours and hers. I see nothing here except personal attacks on me, nothing to factually dispute what I said (which is common knowledge among real music enthusiasts).

        Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 7:26 pm

    • We are always interested in other opinions. It may be hard but that’s how we grow. But we are only interested when people are courageous enough to have that conversation with us face to face. Anonymous=coward. Unfortunately your voice has no value in this conversation.

      Comment by Kassy Coleman — March 19, 2019 @ 12:42 pm

      • I did not say Mozart wrote the libretto, I am well aware that it was written by Da Ponte. I’m saying Mozart chose to portray them a certain way though his musical characterization, in a way I admire. Thanks for calling me a cow, nice.

        Comment by Dr. Melanie Cain — March 19, 2019 @ 8:30 pm

    • fflambeau,
      There will be a comp ticket waiting for you at The Overture Center box office. I would love to continue this conversation face to face.

      Comment by Frank Cain — March 19, 2019 @ 10:25 pm

    • I didn’t intend for my comment to be a personal attack at all, and I’m sorry if you felt that it was.

      I simply wanted to highlight the work Melanie has put in to further her musical knowledge, as well as the many contributions she’s made to the community. We are so proud and happy that Fresco Opera Theatre has been a part of Madison’s diverse, vibrant arts community for the past 10 years.

      It’s great that you are so enthusiastic about classical music, and we would love it if you would come see the production for yourself: https://www.overture.org/events/sopranos.

      Comment by KV — March 19, 2019 @ 11:05 pm

      • Your apology is accepted and I in turn apologize for the low blow about Tony Soprano. All is forgiven from my side (see my post above on the suggestions as to what your wife likely meant?). I have no doubt that Dr. Cain has contributed mightily to the community and salute her work and those people and groups she has helped to advance.

        Most experts in public relations feel that all publicity is “good” publicity; so maybe this spat in fact will help you to get the word out and to sell tickets. Don Giovanni has some of Mozart’s most beautiful music (and I often wonder whether he was in fact human to write it). Exposing more people to his music is indeed a great work.

        Thank you for your kind offer.

        Good luck to the production.

        Comment by fflambeau — March 19, 2019 @ 11:23 pm


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