Mozart Opera Don Giovanni

Classical Music / Opera Dateline: October 29

A Unique Blend of Comic and Serious Opera

Four of about twenty two operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have remained extremely popular on stage and record. One of them is Don Giovanni. 

Don Giovanni is in two Acts, approximately two hours and thirty minutes. Libretto is in Italian by Lorenzo da Ponte after Giovanni Bertati's libretto for Giuseppe Gazzaniga's  The Stone Guest, the contemporary version of the Don Juan legends.It was first performed 
First performance: National Theatre, Prague, in October 29, 1787. Subtitled "drama giocoso," the opera blends comedy, melodrama, and supernatural elements. In Vienna, it was first performed May 7, 1788.

Although this opera is often classified as comic, it's a blend of comic (buffa) and serious (seria), a kind of in between. Perhaps the success of this opera is the unique blending of both, aside from the fascinating character of Don Juan himself, who despite his scandalous ways still endeared him to women and perhaps became a challenge to the men in those days. Mozart wrote this for Prague, the place that dearly loved him and his music. This version of the Don Juan legend had been so viewed and considered by a number of known writers in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it was one of Mozart's works to enjoy high prestige throughout the 19th century, that it attracted much literary attention. Doubtless this was because it was seen as a romantic work and, among other reasons, with its many fine arias shared by major characters, it has also become a vehicle for the great stars those times, as well, has continued this day.   
Setting:  Seville, Spain and neighborhood in the early 17th century.

The Characters:

The Commendatore                                        (Bass)
Donna Anna                His daughter               (Soprano)
Don Ottavio                Her Betrothed              (Tenor)
Don Giovanni             A young nobleman      (Baritone)
Leporello                     Giovanni's servant      (Bass)
Donna Elvira               A lady                         (Soprano)
Masetto                       A peasant                    (Baritone)
Zerlina                         Massetto's betrothed   (Soprano)

Brief Synopsis: 

Don Giovanni, a young nobleman, after a life of amorous conquests, meets defeat in his three encounters: with Donna Elvira, whom he has deserted but who still follows him; with Donna Anna, whose father, the Commendatore, Giovanni kills in escaping from an unsuccessful attempt at seduction and as a result postpones her marriage to Don Ottavio; and with Zerlina, whom he vainly tries to lure from her betrothed, the peasant Masetto. 

All three women vow vengeance on the Don and his harassed servant Leporello. Later, however, Elvira weakens in her resolution and attempts reconciliation with hope that the Don reforms. 

Don Giovanni's destruction and deliverance to hell are effected by the cemetery statue of the Commendatore, who had accepted the libertine's invitation to supper.    

Video Credit:

Mozart's Opera Don Giovanni. Youtube, uploaded by Music Non-Stop TV Classic. Accessed October 29, 2017.

Note: This post is a very brief synopsis. My longer article was written for, published April 14 2007.  


Quaintance Eaton's Opera Production A Handbook, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1962.

(c) 2016-2017.  Tel Asiado.  Written for Inspired Pen Web. All rights reserved.

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