Chamber opera offers ‘Don Giovanni’
American Chamber Opera, Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago
7:30 p.m. Aug. 10-11 and 17-18; and 4 p.m. Aug. 12 and 19.
$20 for adults, $10 for students/seniors
For information, visit americanchamberopera.org
Updated: August 10, 2012 10:14AM
Don Juan, the classic bad boy of the arts, is a fictional libertine hapless women love to love. He first appeared in literature in the 17th century, and he has been chronicled in song and story ever since. Never so memorably, however, as in Mozart’s magnificent opera “Don Giovanni.”
That opera, which premiered in Prague in 1787, will have six performances in English by the American Chamber Opera at the Chicago Temple starting Friday, Aug. 10.
“The company was founded to give opportunities to young singers,” said soprano Mary Lutz Govertsen, a graduate of Northwestern University. She is singing the role of Donna Anna, a woman whom Don Giovanni seduced and abandoned.
And Don Giovanni? He’s played by her husband, baritone Dave Govertsen, now beginning his second year as a member of the Ryan Opera Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The center keeps him busy, recently with a program for the Bar Association, as well as a series of recitals which are being recorded for broadcast on WFMT.
“I’m taking part in the big Lyric night at Millennium Park,” he observed, and next season he has roles in “Der Meistersinger” and “Werther.”
But Dave Govertsen is particularly pleased to be working with the American Chamber Opera. “I have sung with a lot of smaller companies,” he explained, “and this group is very good at managing public relations and the whole production.”
Mary Lutz Govertsen combines performing with teaching drama and music in the Des Plaines public school system. Earlier this year she appeared in American Chamber Opera’s semi-staged presentation of Mendelssohn’s oratorio “Elijah.”
She is most enthusiastic about the conductor of “Don Giovanni,” Deanna Tham, who also conducted “Elijah.”
Tham, who received her bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, graduated in the spring with a master’s degree in conducting from Northwestern University. She was a student of the charismatic Dr. Mallory Thompson, director of bands and wind ensembles and NU’s Bienen School of Music.
“I love ensemble work,” the Evanston resident said. “Dr. Thompson gave me some conducting opportunities and helped me to access the energy that comes from connecting with all the members of an ensemble.”
Making it work
She has more than instrumentalists to deal with in this task, however. “Conducting an opera takes in everything,” she explained. “There is the text, and then there are the singers, the music, the musicians, the lighting, the staging. It has to become an organic whole.”
Her intensive study of Mozart’s score has led her to a new appreciation of the composer and the way he composed “Don Giovanni.”
“Mozart’s a funny guy,” she said. “He composed with a lot of finesse and there are layers upon layers in his music.”
She has found some very definite tongue-in-cheek aspects in this particular score. “A lot is disguised,” she said. “That’s what makes Mozart’s music so charming. You’re always laughing and crying at the same time with him. His music is so ingenious. I’d like to bring that out.”