From the first spine-tingling chord the orchestra plays beneath a stage covered in skulls and shrouded in shadow, Don Giovanni at the Sydney Opera House promises a thrilling take on the iconic opera.

Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach shines as the suave Don Giovanni, highlighting the anti-hero’s enjoyment of his lifestyle and his unrepentant nature and showing off his velvety tone.

Andrei Kymach as Don Giovanni and the cast of Don Giovanni. Image: Keith Saunders (Supplied)

Kymach is joined in his Australian debut by French-Israeli bass-baritone Yuri Kissin as Leporello, who brings a slice of comedic light to an otherwise dark and grim production. Acting as the “conscience” of his machiavellian and unrepenting master, Kissin does this all while delivering a rich tone and perfectly executing Mozart’s rapid passages.

Following the final day of Don Giovanni’s life, the downfall of the serial rapist and scoundrel is apparent from the very beginning, in a story that is packed to the brim with vengeance, grief and rage.

In a post-#metoo world, the solidarity between Donna Anna (Sophie Salvesani), Donna Elvira (Bronwyn Douglass), and Zerlina (Cathy-Di Zhang) in holding Don Giovanni accountable for his actions is a standout theme.

Juan de Dios Mateos as Don Ottavio and Sophie Salvasani as Donna Elvira (left), Bronwyn Douglass as Donna Anna (middle), Cathy-Di Zhang and Andrew Williams as Zerlina and Masetto. Images: Keith Saunders (Supplied)

Whisperings of what he’s really like and Donna Anna’s unrelenting campaign to prevent others from sharing her fate are moments that are reminiscent of the stories of women protecting each other from male abusers in the real world.

Even in contrast to the scale of Don Giovanni’s misdeeds, no-one is without flaws and the cast portray their characters as authentic and messily human.

Salvesani offers a believable depiction of grief and a need for justice following the death of her father, the Commendatore (David Parkin), while Douglass offers up a rich portrayal of a woman torn between love for Don Giovanni, hatred at his deceptions and grief over his impending death, and Zhang straddles the line between loyalty to her husband and the allure of a better life with Don Giovanni.

Andrew Williams’ portrayal of Masetto throws an ugly light over the peasant’s jealousy and misguided anger towards his new bride, the victim of Don Giovanni’s attention, while Juan de Dios Mateos brings the supportive yet impatient Don Ottavio to life with great vocal artistry and control.

The cast of Don GIovanni at the Sydney Opera House. Image: Keith Saunders (Supplied)

This rendition of David McVicar’s Gothic reimagining – where even the chorus become part of the scenery – features a cast of debuting stars, supported by a slimmed-down orchestra that perfectly captures the range of Mozart’s score, from the boisterous celebration of Zerlina and Masetto’s nuptials to the chilling moment Parkin appears on Don Giovanni’s doorstep as the ghoulish statue of the Commendatore.

David Parkin as Commendatore and Andrei Kymach as Don Giovanni. Image: Keith Saunders (Supplied)

Don Giovanni’s fate – being dragged to the Underworld by harpies with abdominal wounds of unknown origin – carries a haunting warning that our actions – and particularly our willingness to change – comes with consequences.

Don Giovanni will be playing at the Sydney Opera House until February 17. To get tickets, head here.

Images: Keith Saunders (Supplied)

This article first appeared on OverSixty.