Festivals: Ominous Vistas

When the curtain rose on Mozart's Don Giovanni at Spoleto, Italy, last week, the traditional 17th century Spanish capes and courtyards were missing. Instead, singers in vaguely funereal costume drifted through bare spaces that seemed to recede into infinities of aquamarine. Massive bands of grey rock jutted around and above them. The eerie landscape was punctuated by spare, brooding pieces of sculpture: a huge, reclining nude in gleaming green; two spiky, dead-white trees; labyrinthine arch forms like vast bleached bones; a series of angular, menacing mummies.

The designs were the first stage...

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