Don Giovanni at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

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Mozart’s finest operas have a Shakespearean ambivalence. Are they comedies leaning towards tragedy, or tragedies leaning to comedy?

The most successful performances combine both aspects in equal measure, but John Caird’s new production for Welsh National Opera catches neither satisfactorily.

It seems to want to be predominantly dark, with weighty conducting by Lothar Koenigs and an imposing set. Yet the scene where Don Giovanni is dragged off to hell has limited impact, with trombones lacking a cutting edge.

It did not help on the opening night in Southampton that David Kempster in the title role was having to battle manfully against illness. He was brave to go on at all.

Pick of the singers were Camilla Roberts, passionate and well-focused as Donna Anna, and Robin Tritschler – a luminous, agile and heartfelt tenor Don Ottavio. And Claire Ormshaw was delightfully minx-like as Zerlina.

David Soar sang well as Leporello but lacked individuality. Nuccia Focile was typically stylish and characterful but vocally tremulous as Donna Elvira, and Carlo Malinverno a lightweight Commendatore,

Oh, and the surtitles were a nightmare.

Another performance of Don Giovanni tomorrow, with The Barber of Seville tonight and on Saturday.