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Opera Essentials: Don Giovanni


A quick guide to Mozart's brilliant tragicomedy.

By Kate Hopkins (Opera and Music Publications Officer)

24 January 2014 at 1.13pm | 2 Comments

The Story Begins…

Don Giovanni is known throughout Europe as a charismatic seducer of women. But where will his multiple seductions lead him? After Giovanni kills the father of one of his conquests, his future looks increasingly dark…

A Mythic Hero

The character of Don Juan (Don Giovanni) first appeared in a play by the Spanish playwright Tirso de MolinaEl burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest), published around 1630. Don Juan has remained an iconic figure in literature. Among his various literary incarnations he features as the hero of a play by Molière and an epic poem by Byron, plays an important role in a play by Bernard Shaw, a novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner and a film by Ingmar Bergman, and was the inspiration behind John Berger’s 1972 Booker Prize-winning novel G.

The Creative Seducer

Kasper Holten’s production focuses on the creative and seductive energy of Don Giovanni, an energy that has huge appeal but that can turn dangerously destructive. The set plays with themes of reality and imagination, with projections evoking Giovanni’s state of mind at important points in the drama. The production also questions what hell might be like for a character like Giovanni, or for a contemporary audience.

Watch Kasper Holten’s video diaries documenting the production process

Two Premieres

Mozart was commissioned to write Don Giovanni for the Prague National Theatre, following a triumphant performance of Le nozze di Figaro there. The premiere of Don Giovanni, on 29 October 1787, was also a success. For Don Giovanni’s Viennese premiere in May 1788, Mozart made some alterations to his score, including a major cut to the final scene.

Mozart the Innovator

Mozart was always keen to set himself new compositional challenges. Novel effects in Don Giovanni include the three superimposed dance metres in the Act I finale and the rich chromatic harmony of Don Giovanni’s Act II scene with the Commendatore. Mozart also provides brilliant musical portrayals of his characters, particularly in Donna Anna and Donna Elvira’s introspective arias in Act II and in Don Ottavio’s arias expressing his love for Donna Anna.

Don Giovanni runs 1–24 February 2014. A small number of tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live around the world on 12 February. Find your nearest cinema.

The production is staged with the generous philanthropic support of David Hancock, Richard and Ginny Salter and the Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

By Kate Hopkins (Opera and Music Publications Officer)

24 January 2014 at 1.13pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Kasper Holten, don giovanni, Opera Essentials, Production

This article has 2 comments

  1. Claeri Venzke responded on 24 January 2014 at 5:28pm Reply

    Congratulation!!!!
    There is NO better singer and actor as DON GIOVANNI and special for Kasper Holten´s idea and directing:
    >>"Kasper Holten’s production focuses on the creative and seductive energy of Don Giovanni, an energy that has huge appeal but that can turn dangerously destructive......."<<
    than the outstanding Mariusz Kwiecien!

    It´s a great pleasure for me, to get tickets for 5 shows and I can´t wait for this production and cast.
    I hope the ROH will do a DVD from that.
    Thanks Mr. Holten for your interesting Video Diary.
    I'm very curious and excited about the performances.

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