PASSION and danger take centre stage as Scottish Opera takes a vivid new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni to audiences in Aberdeen and Inverness this autumn.
This dark legend of seduction is directed by Sir Thomas Allen – who has made Don Giovanni his signature role on stage, having performed the part around 300 times – and is designed by the award-winning Simon Higlett.
The pair's trademark flair for great storytelling has already been seen by audiences across Scotland over recent seasons with their productions for Scottish Opera of The Barber Of Seville, The Marriage Of Figaro and The Magic Flute – and now they turn their attentions to Mozart's most dramatic masterpiece.
The two have chosen to move away from Don Giovanni's traditional backdrop of Seville in favour of the mysterious backstreets of 17th century Venice, full of corruption, lust and darkness.
The Don leads us and his servant Leporello through its backstreets and canals and into shadows and danger.
It is here that he meets and sets his sights on Donna Anna. When her father intervenes, he dies and Don Giovanni must flee. But as the shadows close in and the mistakes of his past begin to catch up with him, the Don's tangled web of lies and betrayal begins to unravel.
The cast balances experience with new talent. Jacques Imbrailo – described by The Times as "the hottest young baritone on the block" – is Don Giovanni, and the internationally-renowned Peter Kalman is his Leporello.
Susan Gritton is Donna Anna and acclaimed Scottish soprano Lisa Milne returns to Scottish Opera for the first time since 2005's Semele to sing Donna Elvira.
Dynamic new conductor Speranza Scappucci makes her Scottish Opera debut conducting The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.
Sir Thomas Allen said: "It feels as if my work with Scottish Opera up until now has been leading me to this most exciting prospect, that of reacquainting myself with the old devil that is Don Giovanni.
"The Don, ever an elusive character, occupies my thoughts disproportionately to this day. With the prospect of each new production I always set myself the challenge of beginning from scratch, wiping the slate clean, and telling myself that I must invent him anew every time.
"It's not a problem to sing the role. The musical demands are relatively straightforward. But playing the man is another matter requiring a quicksilver ability to change mood and direction in a heartbeat.
"Nobody should be comfortable around the Don – audience and cast alike. We plan the moves of a production, but the man himself must remain supple, ready to invent with every minuscule change in the chemistry of the human condition.
"This changeability is something that should lie within every staged performance but seldom does. From the very outset I want the performers to feel they are in a work that evolves from night to night."
* Performances at His Majesty's Theatre will be on Thursday, October 31 and Saturday, November 2 at 7.30pm. There will also be free events – Don Giovanni Unwrapped to give the audience a taster of the opera music, scenery, costumes and background. On Friday, November 1, at 6pm there's also a pre-show talk before the performance on the Saturday from 6pm. For ticket information go to His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen and phone 01224 641122.
* At Eden Court, the performances are on Thursday, November 7 and Saturday, November 9, both at 7.30pm. Free events Don Giovanni Unwrapped giving the audience a taster of the opera's music, scenery, costumes and background is on Friday, November 8 at 6pm and the pre-show talk is also at 6pm on Saturday, November 9. For ticket information go to Eden Court, Inverness call 01463 234 234.