Delaware Valley Opera returns from hiatus

Sex, vengeance and damnation – they all converge in Don Giovanni, which the Delaware Valley Opera Company is performing at 8 p.m. this Wednesday and Saturday at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, 4200 Wissahickon Ave. 


Mozart’s opera focuses on a decadent Spanish nobleman whose pursuits of wine and women lead to his downfall. Grant Mech, 28, plays the title role and describes Don Giovanni as a narcissistic playboy. “He has his way and gets whatever he wants,” Mech said. “It’s a nice set of shoes to fit into, a very dark personality.”


Stage director Tim Ribchester describes Mozart’s score as some of the most suspenseful orchestral music that has even been composed.  ”Mozart puts demands of grace, timing, diction and verve on the singers and creates a very close relationship between singers and orchestra,” says Ribchester.


The opera’s dialogue is sung entirely in Italian. Musical director Tim Ribchester says he coached the cast extensively in cleanly fitting their verses with proper Italian diction to fit with the ensemble rhythm: “Then there is a lot of recitative, the more chatty passages of open-ended music which is supposed to sound as close to natural Italian speech as possible.”

The non-profit Delaware Valley Opera Company has kept it base in Roxborough since its founding in 1979, though the locations of its performances have shuffled recently. For more than 25 years, it held performances at the Hermitage Mansion in the Roxborough section of Fairmount Park, before relocating temporarily to Roxborough High School.


The Delaware Valley Opera Company postponed its 2010 while it searched for a new venue, and eventually settled on the newly opened Kroc Center as its new home. “It’s really nice to be so close to everything,” says stage director Sandra Hartman, a Philadelphia native who recently moved into neighboring Manayunk.  Hartman says she debuted as a director and singer for the Delaware Valley Opera  in the early ’80s.


“They gave me my first opportunity, so there’s some loyalty,” Hartman says. “But it’s really the volunteers who keep it going.”


Tickets range in price from $15 to $20.  For information, call 215-725-4171.

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