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Columbus to take on Mozart’s classic opera, ‘Don Giovanni’

Courtesy of Bruce Zinger

Gentlemen, hide your wives.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni,” about a notorious playboy and his many revenge-thirsty women, is scheduled to come to the Southern Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The opera, based on the story of Don Juan, will be performed by the Toronto-based group Opera Atelier and will be performed with the Opera Columbus Chorus and the Columbus Symphony.

Columbus-based soprano singer Peggy Kriha Dye will be performing as Elvira, a former lover of Giovanni’s who is torn between helping him and helping the other women he has hurt.

For Dye, being able to perform in her hometown is an exciting opportunity as she’s constantly on the road.

“It’s so cool. I’ve never done it before,” she said. “It’s a new experience. A lot of my friends will hear me sing for the first time and it’s great. It’s nice to be able to go home after rehearsal as well.”

Though she will perform for her friends in Columbus, most of the time when she is on the road, she doesn’t see her family.

However, she has a rule that she meets her husband and kids every two weeks “no matter the expense,” she said.

“We made that sacrifice for each other to meet every two weeks, but it’s very difficult,” Dye said.

In the meantime, she finds solace in her road family.

“I’ve become very close with the people I’m working with and (they) kind of become your short-term family, in a way,” she said.

“That’s kind of how opera works, in a way.”

Dye performs with a group that tends to put on operas that are hundreds of years old, she said.

Mozart premiered the opera 224 years ago. However, not all aspects of the operas are old.

“The stories … and the relationships are very current,” she said. “So even though they were written very long ago, they are very relevant today.”

One theme in particular she pointed out was the “playboy” theme.

“Don Giovanni is a bad boy. … I’m sure we could name a couple we know in real life,” she said.

In the opera, Giovanni flirts with innocent women, all of whom exact their own personal blends of revenge on the unsuspecting young nobleman.

“We all know people like that, we know characters like that and we have feelings like that,” Dye said in reference to the women.

The themes in the opera make it so universal that the story of “Don Giovanni” has been set during World War II and in the Wild West, Dye said.

Though the story has been changed and updated throughout the years, Mozart’s music has always been the foundation that kept the opera attached to its roots.

Dye said that while Mozart’s music had aged, she thinks it will still be well received by the crowd.

“There’s a reason why his music has lasted hundreds of years — it’s because it’s really good,” she said. “Although it’s classical and it’s operatic, themes in the music repeat and it’s easy to follow.”

Mozart’s is Dye’s favorite music to sing, she said.

“It’s beautiful, it’s challenging, it’s creative (and) it’s interesting,” she said. “I’ve never been tired of singing his music for 20 years.”

Mozart’s music was brought back to life for the company’s 2011-2012 season opener, which kicked off Oct. 29 in Toronto.

Arthur Kaptainis said in a review for Canada’s National Post that the company has the ability to deviate from the libretto but can still stay true to the story.

“This is precisely why Opera Atelier seems such an island of artistry these days amid a roiling sea of updating and distortion,” he said.

Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian said “Don Giovanni” is “a devilishly delicious opera.”

Dye added that “Don Giovanni” is great for inexperienced opera-goers as the music is in Italian with English subtitles.

“For those who have never been to an opera before, this is a really great first-time opera,” she said.

Tickets range from $39 to $98 and can be purchased at the Ohio Theatre Ticket Office or via any Ticketmaster outlet.

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