After the astounding critical and popular successes of its recent Wagnerian performances, including a full Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal and Tannhäuser, Saffron Opera Group now turns its attention to an earlier work.

A youthful - but already highly acclaimed - cast of British singers assembles to perform Mozart’s tragic-comic masterpiece Don Giovanni in concert on Sunday, February 19, at 2.30pm.

Mozart’s opera, first performed in 1787, tells the story of a betrayer who is himself betrayed and brought to justice. Don Giovanni is a tireless seducer of women (the notches on his bed-post number 1003 according to the libretto), but he eventually meets his match when he attempts to ravish the unwilling aristocrat Donna Anna.

With the help of her fiancé Ottavio, the cruelly spurned Donna Elvira, and the ghost of her own murdered father, she helps to bring down the fury of hell upon the violent libertine. The final scene, in which an unrepentant Giovanni is dragged into the flames of the underworld, is one of the greatest highlights of the entire operatic repertoire.

Taking the lead role of the charismatic but cold-hearted charmer is baritone Charles Rice. He has already scored a great success in the role at Opéra d’Avignon, and also worked with many of the most important British houses in other major roles. ‘As Marcello [in La bohème at English National Opera] Charles Rice excelled in character and vocal punch alike,’ said, while praised the ‘revelatory and outstanding quality of his deep baritone sound.’

Bass-baritone Nicholas Crawley takes the role of Giovanni’s faint-hearted sidekick Leporello. Another favourite of British and European houses, he has recently been seen at ENO and Opera Holland Park. ‘particularly liked Crawley’s seductive dark sound and agile presence.’ Taking the role of the abused Donna Anna – one of Mozart’s most demanding female roles, fearsome in its vocal and emotional challenges - is the rising-star soprano Charlie Drummond, who was recently a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist and is also an alumna of the National Opera Studio. Both the Edinburgh Music Review and The Herald Scotland have tipped her as one to watch.

Tenor William Morgan, fresh from a five-star triumph in the title role of Candide Scottish Opera, is Donna Anna’s fiancé Don Ottavio. ‘Sings with wide-eyed simplicity and warm conviction,’ said The Times. ‘At the opera’s heart is a charismatic performance from tenor William Morgan,’ wrote The Herald.

Spanish-born British Soprano Alexandra Lowe is the semi-comical character Donna Elvira, a spurned lover who unexpectedly turns up to thwart Giovanni’s current plans. A recent Jette Parker Young Artist, she sang Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire at the Royal Opera in May 2022.

‘A sensational, career-making performance’ said The Guardian, and The Times was equally impressed, thrilling to her ‘stunningly assured and superbly expressive performance.’ Of her recent performance with Kilden Opera, Kristiansand, Norway Post opined, “The performance’s most outstanding vocal performance is delivered by the young Spanish-British

soprano Alexandra Lowe in the role of Donna Elvira. Lowe has a wonderful voice and effortlessly and convincingly alternates between rage, passion and despair.”

Pure-voiced soprano Natalie Montakhab is the flirtatious young peasant-girl Zerlina (‘exactly what a Handelian voice should be’ enthused the Early Music Review) and baritone Frederick Long is her jealous lover Masetto. ‘A lovely fresh and relaxed tone, and dashing presence,’ said Opera Today; ‘A performance of blazing conviction’ said The Guardian of his role as The Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas.

Completing the cast as the murdered Commendatore who drags Giovanni to hell, is the internationally acclaimed bass Julian Close, famous for major Wagnerian roles in the most prestigious houses in Europe and America. When he sang the Commendatore at Opera Northern Ireland, the Irish Times called him ‘stupendous.’

The performance is conducted by SOG’s much-loved regular maestro Michael Thorne, who has garnered wide praise for his operatic talents. ‘Totally at one with the dramatic spirit and architecture’ Seen and Heard International, ‘Sure footed conducting and meticulous preparation,’ The Guardian.

Saffron Opera Group was founded in 2013 by local opera-loving Saffron Waldenites. It hit the ground running with a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger involving professional soloists, and a chorus and orchestra of semi-professional and high-level amateur musicians. Its ambitious concerts of The Ring Cycle and Parsifal have been among the most successful UK Wagnerian events of recent years. The current directors are Francis Lambert (co-founder) and Jeff Thomson.

Saffron Opera Group Orchestra and Chorus performs DON GIOVANNI at 2.30pm on Sunday, February 19, at Saffron Hall, Audley End Road, Saffron Walden.

Box Office 0845 548 7650

Visit or