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Johnny Ramster here, director of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Kilden Theatre, which premieres on the 17th September and runs for six performances.

We’ve reached an exciting point in our rehearsals. After two weeks in a rehearsal studio at the very top of the theatre, we are now rehearsing onstage. Our fabulous kinetic set (by Canadian designer Bridget Kimak) is revolving and moving in and out beautifully! The design workshops at Kilden; not just for set-building but for costumes, wigs and make-up as well, have been working so hard to get the sets and costumes ready for the stage. Not to forget the lighting teams. They have all done a wonderful job – Kristiansand is so lucky to have such a dedicated team of craftsmen, artists and technicians based at the Kilden Theatre.

Our cast for the show has been expertly selected by the opera chief at Kilden, Frøydis Emilie Lind. It is a terrific mix of home-grown talent from here in Kristiansand, also Bergen and Oslo-based artists, as well as singers from South Korea, Iceland, Australia, Spain and the UK – and our conductor Risto Joost hails from Estonia. The chorus is a blend of local professionals, vocal students and talented amateurs giving their all on stage – especially in the famous Act 1 finale ball scene. In our production it is an hallucinatory fancy-dress extravaganza! And, of course, the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra will be in the pit, revealing all the subtleties and epic sweep of Mozart’s score. 

The level of talent in this company is off the charts and I’m enjoying so much exploring this masterpiece (my favourite opera of all time!) with them. Trying to find our way back to the version of the old Don Giovanni (or Don Juan) myth that Mozart and his genius librettist Lorenzo DaPonte intended to write: one full of ambiguities, doubts and injustice, questioning the contemporary morals of the day in which the story is told. Like all the greatest works of art, Don Giovanni has plenty to say about us, me and you, the way we live our lives, right here and now in 2022 – this opera is not a museum piece preserved in eighteenth-century amber!

If you’ve never been to the opera before then, Don Giovanni is a tremendous way to start. It is a very modern-feeling combination of drama and comedy with an intriguing supernatural twist as well. Don Giovanni’s last day on earth is a very eventful one! Our fast-moving show brings out all these levels, a terrific story told with fabulous visuals. I’m very interested in all my productions telling the story super clearly, asking the audience questions about the piece rather than supplying them with all the answers. Live performance is a communication happening in the moment between a performer and the audience – if you haven’t visited the theatre since the pandemic then now is the time to come back to Kilden for the biggest and most epic production of the  year. Experience again the unique pleasures of live theatre, the first opera here in four years, performed by our wondrous Norwegian and international cast, crew and orchestra.  See you soon!

– Johnny Ramster, Opera Director, Don Giovanni