A chat with ‘Don Giovanni’ ahead of his Mayflower Theatre performance
- La forza del destino Wednesday, 21 March 2018 6.30pm
- Tosca Thursday, 22 March 2018 7.15pm
- Don Giovanni Friday, 23 March 2018 7pm
On Friday I’ll be seeing Don Giovanni, an opera based on Don Juan, the fictional libertine and legendary seducer. It’s a classic story that’s been told in many ways since 1787. Lovers, murder and vengeance, highs and lows, comedy and tragedy. I’ve been assured it is a classic.
As you might be able to tell, opera isn’t my normal night out. But, as you know by now, I’m one for getting out of my comfort zone and challenging perceptions and stereotypes. Opera is extremely popular, and it’s about time I gave it a second chance.
Ahead of the show I spoke to Gavan Ring, an Irish tenor, who will be playing Don Giovanni, about his love for the opera, and how it’s becoming more accessible to millennials like me.
Gavan kindly took time out of his busy schedule to have a quick chat with me about his upcoming role, his Welsh National Opera debut and role debut as Don Giovanni.
I caught Gavin driving with his wife between performances in Ireland, later that evening he would be performing with her – what a talented couple and an incredible life!
Why do you love opera and how did you get into it?
Gavan said: “I chose opera because if you’re going to be doing something for the rest of your life you’ve got to really enjoy it. I really enjoy opera. I come from a very musical family so was surrounded with it while I was growing up.
“My family has always been very supportive, especially my Mother. After I listened to The Three Tenors when I was very young I was completely mesmerised, impressed and spellbound. I started to mimic them immediately, trying to re-create the sounds.
“As I got older I started playing the piano and studying music to doctorate level. It was through these experiences and coaching from a particular teacher I had, called Mary Brennan, that I really caught the bug for classical music.
“I’m now about to debut as Don Giovanni, it’s humbling to be a part of it.”
How can people get into opera?
Gavan said: “I think there are several ways. Education on one hand, being exposed at a young age helps as people have some sort of background then with opera. People can’t help but react to it when they are younger, and education allows people to pass the interest on. Different initiatives across the country are helping to make it more accessible.
“Opera is a powerful art form, it resonates with people. Don Giovanni is an intensely dramatic experience. More opera is becoming increasingly theatrical and there’s a real emphasis now in rehearsals on the acting. Gone are the days when opera was a park and bark sort of thing.
“Gone are the days when opera was a park and bark sort of thing.”
“Barriers are being broken down by social media which is helping exposure and attracting more people.”
What drew you to the role of Don Giovanni?
Gavan Said: ” Don Giovanni is the ultimate role, it is a symbiosis between acting and singing. It’s a real challenge to portray a unique and inherently complex character. But, it’s also a lot of fun to play the villain! That’s definitely why I was attracted to the role.
“This production of Don Giovanni is a very fast paced, truthful version of the story, audiences will be enthralled. You’ll both laugh and cry, it’s a colourful nights entertainment, a real emotional rollercoaster!
“Also, there’s a great set, lighting and costumes too – it’s very visually stimulating.”
“It’s all driven by dramatic intention and it will have you hanging on the edge of your seat. I’m using all the cliches because they are true!”
A big thank you to Gavan for having a chat with me ahead of the performance.
Gavan was so enthusiastic and passionate about opera that it’s made me even more excited to see the show on Friday. He really loves what he does.
I love comedy and drama and can’t wait to see him perform – it sounds like it’s going to be a really good show. Roll on Friday!
If you want to know a bit more about the story of Don Giovanni, here’s a quick synopsis from Mayflower Theatre and a short biography for Gavan.
The arrogant and charismatic Don Giovanni seduces his way around Europe, taking what he wants and living for lust, without conscience. When one of his conquests ends in murder, it looks like his luck is about to turn. He finds himself on the run, pursued by disgruntled ex-lovers, fiancées and a force from beyond the grave. But when he refuses to show remorse, vengeance is inevitable and leads to his ultimate demise.
Based on the legend of Don Juan, Welsh National Opera’s production is set during the Spanish Golden Age. Mozart reflects both comedy and tragedy brilliantly in the score, including the ‘Catalogue’ aria detailing Giovanni’s list of 2065 lovers, the sparkling ‘Champagne’ aria and the high drama of the heart-stopping finale.
Gavan Ring – Don Giovanni debut with Welsh National Opera
Gavan Ring read Education and Music at St Patrick’s College, Dublin and undertook post-graduate studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He trained at the National Opera Studio in London and was a Jerwood Young Artist at the 2012 Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In 2013 Ring was second prize winner of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and won the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award.
Recent engagements: Le Dancaïre Carmen (Opéra Royal de Versailles); High King of Ireland Eithne (Opera Theatre Company); The Novice’s Friend Billy Budd (Aldeburgh Festival)
Forthcoming engagements: Olivier Capriccio (Garsington Opera)