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Foto: Camilla Winther


You don’t have to be an opera aficionado to enjoy Simon Steen-Andersen’s terrific opera spoof Don Juan’s Inferno – but it helps.

The show itself is a spectacularly entertaining and beautifully executed production with an original, conceptual premise. Who meets Mozart’s violator-hero Don Juan down in Hell after being engulfed in flames for his sins? 

With this premise, Danish-born, Berlin-based composer and multi-artist Simon Steen-Andersen (47) takes the audience on a diabolical sightseeing tour of the underworld, where a large part of the entertainment value lies in unravelling all the built-in references to iconic opera characters and soundbites that make up the show.

What a show it is! With a breakneck array of exciting performative and electronic elements, both visually and musically.

Don Juan is in bad company with boring characters like Faust, Macbeth, Iago, Princess Turandot, The Flying Dutchman and a wonderful line-up of other cursed villains, where I only miss the cynical naval officer Pinkerton and my absolute favorite criminal Scarpia.

The music roars along in a kind of villain medley of musical snippets from the 30 or so operatic works involved, superbly recomposed and linked together by the creative composer who claims not to have written a note himself.

Gravity is repeatedly cancelled out in striking video scenographies where the performers fly weightlessly between the stage space and the depths of hell.

Unless they are sailing on the ferryman Charon’s boat across Styx on their way to the realm of the dead or taking part in a kind of Evil X Factor/Hell’s Got Talent TV show, which is realized with great irony and a flashy array of motion graphics and stage technology.

I was highly entertained from start to finish, but recognize that it’s a show that divides opinion and may not be very welcoming to the ‘uninitiated’.

With this aberdabay, GOT TO SEE THIS gives 5 big stars to a theatre experience reminiscent of the kind you can experience in opera hotspots like Frankfurt and Zurich, helping to breathe fresh air into a genre that is so difficult to renew without it becoming silly and tacky.

My companion this evening, who is otherwise absolutely culturally well-equipped, open-minded and used to a bit of everything, described Inferno as an hour and a half of uninterrupted suffering. A disjointed performance reminiscent of a bad LSD trip where a little SoMe is thrown in at the end just to keep up with the music.

A reference to the finale, where Don Juan is given his own medicine and humiliated with his trousers down in front of a cheering opera audience – so he can learn!

To add to the tension, I actually find the show so interesting that I’m already considering watching it again to decode and enjoy even more of the subtle layers.

What’s wrong with nurturing your elitist self-image? We’ll go to Tivoli  another day.