INDIANAPOLIS — Not even a pandemic could ultimately stop the manipulative — yet sometimes delightful — evil that is the star of what was arguably Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's greatest opera.
In March of 2020, baritone Eric McKeever and a sterling cast were getting ready to present "Don Giovanni" on the Indianapolis stage.
However, an evil statue named COVID-19 burst through the curtain before it could rise, and the production — not to mention the entire opera company — was put on hold.
That hold is now over, and The Big Don is back.
"Every character is rich, and complex...and obviously, the character of Don Giovanni is quite divisive, because he's not a good guy," said baritone Eric McKeever.
McKeever will portray the ill-fated title character, as "Don Giovanni opens the Indianapolis Opera's new season on the stage of The Tarkington, part of The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
If you're a fan of opera in Indy, you may recognize Eric when you see and hear him.
"I actually was a young artist with Indianapolis Opera many years ago," McKeever says.
He was supposed to be leading much of the same cast that's about to take the stage now 19 months ago, when a virus silenced the opera and the entire entertainment world.
"We have pretty much the same cast," McKeever said. "There's a few new additions, but they have been so amazing at returning to this piece. It's been really exciting the last few days of rehearsal. It's been really amazing to make art again."
You may have seen at least part of Don Giovanni on the silver screen before. It's a focal point of the Academy Award-winning film 'Amadeus', the highly-fictionalized story of Mozart's life.
Some music historians consider the opera first performed in 1787 Mozart's masterpiece.
"It's amazing how relevant (Don Giovanni's) behavior is even in today's society," McKeever said. "This particular type of character — he's complex, he's difficult, he's problematic. But my role as the singing actor is to find the humanity in him and try to make him likable. I don't think that's going to happen."
Opera is an ancient art, but McKeever says that doesn't mean people should think it will be over their heads.
A good comparison, he says is another, slightly more physical performance art.
"My grandfather was a huge professional wrestling fan, and he always cheered for the bad guy," McKeever said. "There's something about characters — whether they're in wrestling, whether they're in opera, whether they're in theater — who speak their mind, who do exactly as they please. I wouldn't suggest going about doing that in life, but if you want entertainment, Giovanni is a great character."
"Don Giovanni" from the Indianapolis Opera plays November 5-7 at The Tarkington at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. You can find more information and learn how to get tickets at IndyOpera.org.