"But what casting! Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's Leporello has the nobility of voice and theatrical charisma to make a great Don himself. The mimed serenade opening the second act is polished rather than pretence clumsy - clearly a well-honed party trick. John Mark Ainsley's sympathetic, intelligent Ottavio sings ravishingly, and creates a constantly impressive figure. Ana Maria Martinez's fiesty, ripely passionate Elvira (in her torn and dirty wedding dress) wins more appreciation that Christine Goerke's powerful thrilling Anna, who loses impact and seems a bit too frigid. Natalie Christie's tiny, adorable Zerlina and Darren Jeffrey's affectionate, highly-promising Masetto steal their scenes perfectly. It's a feast of fine singing.
Tom Sutcliffe - London Evening Standard
"The whole ensemble, energised by Charles Mackerras's elegant conducting, performs brilliantly. Giovanni's double-act with Leporello, the splendid Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, is hugely funny and never far from violence. The thrillingly throaty Elvira, Ana Maria Martinez, is certainly half-cracked but her hysterical grief is stabbing... Masetto the ox and his little Zerlina - almost as amoral as the Don - are sweetly played by Darren Jeffrey and Natalie Christie. Even unctuous Ottavio has legitimate needs and desires in John Mark Ainsley's hands, and poor, irritating Anna (a majestic Christine Goerke) seems destined to indulge her sadness alone."
Robert Thicknesse - The Times London
"The Royal Opera's new production of Don Giovanni opened only a month ago, but the changes wrought on it by a complete change of cast and conductor are so radical that it almost qualifies as a revival. Crucially, the production is peopled with real characters rather than ciphers, performers who offer genuine insights onto the roles they are playing.
The transformation is multi-faceted, but the greatest gains are musical, and it is the performances that now make the show well worth seeing, or at least hearing...
There's also a sonorous Commendatore from Andrea Silvestrelli, a perky Zerlina from Natalie Christie, and a highly promising Masetto from the young Darren Jeffrey. Altogether a fabulous evening musically."
Andrew Clements - The Guardian
"Compelling unusual as Alan Held's Leporello was for Terfel, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's was more traditional in humour and made a splendid foil to Keenleyside besides being extremely well sung. Ottavio's two arias found John Mark Ainsley in his sweetest voice and Natalie Christie's Zerlina (another house debut) was almost as enchanting as Rebecca Evan's; praise indeed."
Michael Kennedy - The Sunday Telegraph
"The durability and effectiveness of Francesca Zambello's Royal Opera production of Mozart's Don Giovanni has been tested by the arrival of a new cast and conductor, and triumphantly vindicated. Since the first night, five weeks ago, the director has fine-tuned her staging, taking advantage of a more evenly balanced ensemble of singers, including a royal flush of exciting debutants.
From the scampering molto allegro of the overture, it was evident, last Monday night, that this would be a very different Don Giovanni. Sir Charles Mackerras emphasises the fast moving comedy of this dramma giocoso, while his predecessor, Sir Colin Davis, underlined its dark atmosphere of impending doom...
... Natalie Christie and Darren Jeffery completed one of the best casts Covent Garden has fielded in this opera with their charmingly youthful Zerlina and Masetto."
Hugh Canning - The Sunday Times
"Which brings me to Francesca Zambello's Don Giovanni, now with its second cast and utterly transformed...
The upsides are Simon Keenleyside (quite disturbingly sexy as the murderous Don), Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (a lithe and immensely likeable Leporello), Natalie Christie (sweet of tone as Zerlina), John Mark Ainsley (a noble Don Ottavio). Above all, there's Sir Charles Mackerras, who brings supreme definition and colour to the score, and shapes the accompanied recitatives to devastating effect. Everything is different this time; at one and the same time more traditional, more cohesive and more compelling. A triumph."
Anna Piccard - Independent