WW: What's with the dainty shoe?
Ian Hewitt: It's one of the Don's trophies. He'll show it off while he brags a bit of his conquests.
According to some sources, Don Giovanni seduced 2,065 women, so he'd certainly have needed a reliable weapon to fend off pursuers now and then.
I've made three rapiers for this production, but that wasn't a big job. I had to make 32 swords for Macbeth, which Portland Opera presented back in February.
Do the weapons need to look authentic?
Yes. I spend time on the Internet looking at replicas from www.swordsanddaggers.com, www.a2armory.com, eBay and www.darksword-armory.com to get the right idea of the sword I need to make. Then I go to Home Depot and get all the materials like flat aluminum, vertical blinds and copper pipe couplings and make the swords here. It's a lot less expensive and more fun. I've got a drill press, band saw, lathe and other equipment that gives me the ability to create the props. It doesn't matter if it's wood or metal.
How did you learn how to do all this?
I grew up on a farm in Australia. When something like the machinery broke down, you couldn't run to the nearest catalog, you had to fashion a remedy from what you had on hand.
What about this picture of you and Placido Domingo on your wall?
He liked to thank all of the people who worked on a production. One time I found him in the bowels of the Met, where he was telling dirty jokes to the guys who built the scenery. Those guys are pretty rough. Some of them are so wild they'd probably eat their young. But Domingo is in a class of his own.
What's been trickiest to build?
For The Tales of Hoffmann I made a walking stick that needed a big crystal diamond light on the top, and when you pushed a tiny button, the bottom of the stick would explode.
Don Giovanni, Portland Opera at the Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 241-1802. 7:30 pm Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, May 13, 16, 18 and 20. $37-$133.