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Amazing Don Giovanni

November 02, 2007

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Pavarotti said he loved watching opera regularly as a child and every child would love opera if they saw productions like the one we saw in Prague. The audience was filled with adults, who like the Asian young man next to me, were “Wow”-ing, “Ahh”-ing and “Oh”-ing through out the performance as one surprise after another delighted us. As a former film, television and stage actor, I am quite fussy about theatre and I was very impressed with this show and the marvelous, creative director and team who put it together. This was a huge highlight for us in Prague, so much more than we ever expected.

Puppets have long been a part of the Czech culture and Mozart was thrilled to stop in every shop and practice with them. They also have well known puppet shows in Salzburg and Vienna and we were disappointed that we did not get to see the famous opera puppet show in Salzburg in person, but glad we saw them on film. We knew we would get another chance at a good puppet opera in Prague, but had no idea it would be so spectacular. I highly recommend this show to anyone who comes to Prague or gets a chance to see it if it comes to their area. (www.nationalmarionettetheatre.cz )

W.A. Mozart wrote Don Giovanni (often called the opera of operas) while in Prague and we had wanted to also see a production of it at the Estates Theatre where it first debuted. We could not get tickets for when we could see it, so I was disappointed, but this probably worked out better. This was the first time we saw this opera and I can not imagine a more thrilling introduction. One review (of many) raved and said “The quality of the show is extraordinarily high.Rarely does one see something like this in puppetry.” and we heartily agree.

It is not a production for children and there were very few children in the audience, but it was a perfectly entertaining vehicle for adults and children alike. It was sort of like Mozart's music where it could entertain on several levels at once. This and the clever pantomimes and Shakespeare that we use to go to at home at UCSC at Shakespeare Santa Cruz are the kinds of productions that I wish every child could grow up with. They would all love Shakespeare and opera and I believe it is the way it used to be, but now bad television takes up so much space and time. We were happy that we arrived very early, so got front row center seats which was wonderful in this small intimate theatre.

It was exciting to us that it was an opera that takes place in Sevilla, one of our favorite cities in our home away from home, Spain. A figure that looks like Mozart, dressed in that period of clothing, acts as conductor through out the show, adding parody and fun. Our little Mozart just loved him and his funny antics. She has always had a great sense of humor and loves wit.

They do a marvelous job of combining several realities throughout the show and engage real actors along with the puppets in a most intriguing and moving way. They used rain, bubbles, thunder, smoke and fire in truly surprising and dramatic ways, that suited the opera and delighted the audience on this lovely magical ride. It is only two hours, so I assume they have edited the show, but the music and singing is recorded and first rate.

Afterwards we bought a little Mozart puppet for our little Mozart that she just loves. We could not think of a better souvenir to remember Prague and this exciting show! The first thing the next morning she was up and adam using our motor home bed, which makes a perfect puppet stage, to do an opera of her own for us.

This is the kind of educational and cultural field trip that is unschooling at its very best, full of fun and will enrich us all for life. We continued to have our daily pajama puppet performances while in Prague and we will never look at puppets in quite the same way. Some day that puppet will have a special place displayed in our home or later her home, that will always remind us of these happy times.

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