Don Giovanni, a Spanish nobleman, travels through Europe seducing women, accompanied by his long-suffering servant Leporello. When his actions lead to murder, he unleashes vengeance from beyond the grave.
‘The opera of all operas’ was how the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann described Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It was first staged in Prague in 1787 and by the 19th century had become one of the most performed operas in Europe. It had a profound influence on many Romantic writers, including Shelley and Byron, and has led to an enduring fascination with the licentious figure of ‘Don Juan’.
Mozart’s score offers many musical highlights, from beautiful arias and dramatic duets to the brilliant layering of three dance melodies in the Act I party scene. The appeal of Don Giovanni lies in his seductive charm. He woos Zerlina in a duet of irresistible sweetness and banters spiritedly with his servant Leporello. But Don Giovanni cannot escape the consequences of his actions. His victims pursue him with flaming torches, voicing their fury in powerful ensembles. And in the final scene in this production, the flames of hell take truly tangible form.
News and features
9 January 2014
Mozart's famous anti-hero isn't opera's only irresistible charmer.
Don Giovanni [dɔn dʒoˈvanni] (K. 527; complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni) is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga (now called the Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787. Da Ponte's libretto was billed, like many of its time, as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements. A staple of the standard operatic repertoire, Don Giovanni is currently tenth on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide. It has also proved a fruitful subject for writers and philosophers.