Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 11:22 pm | Fair 70º


Opera Santa Barbara Brings Tropes of Film Noir to Production of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’

Opera Santa Barbara will open its 2015–16 season with a uniquely compelling, film noir-inspired production of Mozart’s timeless masterpiece Don Giovanni Nov. 6 and 8, 2015.

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, in Santa Barbara’s historic Granada Theatre.

Ranging in price from $29 to $204, tickets can be purchased at or by calling 805.899.2222.  

“Don Giovanni is a comedy, a drama, a love story, a psychological thriller and a moral dilemma. It’s life set to music by the greatest composer of all time,” said Kostis Protopapas, who was named artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara in July. “In our film noir-inspired production, light and shadow play many games, and the most intriguing man in opera becomes even more mysterious.”

Rapturously received at its 1787 premiere and hailed ever since as one of opera’s superlative achievements, Don Giovanni dramatizes the story of the legendary libertine Don Juan Tenorio.

Mozart, 31 and at the height of his artistic powers when he composed the opera, ingeniously captures the mythical dimension of his erotic subject.

In structure and style, the work of his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, is equally masterful. The result is a thought-provoking, deeply moving tale and a score of unsurpassed beauty and eloquence.

Opera Santa Barbara’s production, which was originally staged by Kentucky Opera in 2013, conspicuously adopts the style and mood of film noir, the motion picture genre prevalent in the 1940s and ’50s characterized by cynicism, stark black-and-white photography and the narrative tropes of hardboiled, depression-era crime fiction.

According to stage director Kristine McIntyre, who helmed Kentucky Opera’s production, noir conventions present an ideal lens for navigating Don Giovanni’s notorious moral crosscurrents and ambiguities. 

“The piece has been called un-directable, and I think I know what that means,” she said. “Film noir — borne of the angst and unrest left behind by the second world war, made in an atmosphere of fear and distrust and uncertainty, with strong female characters who are just as rotten as the men in their lives, where there’s no such thing as innocence, and where the anti-hero knows he’s going to get it but is going to take us along for the ride — here is a world in which Giovanni makes sense.”  

Opera Santa Barbara’s production, conducted by Douglas Kinney Frost and directed by Kelly Robinson, will feature up-and-coming American baritone Mark Walters in the title role.

Described by Opera News as “a force to be reckoned with” and by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “vocal fury,” Walters “possesses a magnificently resonant voice and unforced dramatic ability,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Following triumphant performances in recent productions of RigolettoIl trovatore and La traviata, critics have lauded his remarkable facility with demanding Verdi roles. His other recent engagements have included Fidelio with Opera Omaha and Kentucky Opera, Tosca with Sarasota Opera and La Bohéme with Opera Naples.

Award-winning soprano Marcy Stonikas, who sang the title role in Opera Santa Barbara’s 2013 production of Tosca, will appear as Donna Anna, Don Giovanni’s female nemesis.

Last season she sang the title roles in Ariadne auf Naxos with Seattle Opera and Turandot wih Cincinnati Opera and debuted with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

Rounding out the cast will be soprano Rena Harms as Donna Elvira, bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs as Leporello, tenor Benjamin Brecher as Don Ottavio, and bass Kevin Thompson as Il Commendatore.

Last season Harms appeared with the Grand Théâtre de Genève as Helmwige in Die Walküre and made her role debut as Desdemona in Otello with the Oldenburgishes Staatstheater.

The 2014–15 season saw Mobbs return to the Metropolitan Opera as Kromow in the company’s new production of The Merry Widow. He also participated in the Met’s staging of La donna del Lago and debuted with Los Angeles Opera as Baron Douphol in Marta Domingo’s production of La traviata.

Brecher recently received plaudits for his turn as Gerald in California Opera’s staging of Lakme, while Thompson is coming off roles in Santa Fe Opera’s well-received productions of Rigoletto and Salome.

Complete artist biographies are available at

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, Opera Santa Barbara’s production of Don Giovanni is generously supported by Roger and Sarah Chrisman, the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation and the Mithun Family Foundation.

Opera Santa Barbara’s 2015–16 season will continue with Gaetano Donizetti’s romantic comedy L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) on March 4 and 6, 2016, and Puccini’s great one-act operas Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi on April 22 and 24, 2016. 

The Granada Theatre is located at 1214 State Street in Santa Barbara. To place a season subscription order, visit or call 805.898.3890. 

— Tim Dougherty is a publicist representing Santa Barbara Opera.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >