Don Giovanni, Opera by W. A. Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was famous for his sense of humour, and some believe his acclaimed opera Don Giovanni to be an elaborate joke on the audience. It starts out as a light comedy about the title character’s lusty escapades, only to take a sharp, shocking and dark turn. The opening night at Prague’s Estates Theatre on 29 October 1787 left audiences thunderstruck. Don Giovanni’s production at Teatro Costanzi in Rome promises to be just as gripping!
Mozart had already made great experiences in Prague thanks to the rousing success of his previous comedy opera, The Marriage of Figaro, so he eagerly accepted the commission for another stage work there. To continue his winning streak, the composer once again enlisted the services of librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. Pressed for time, they unanimously decided to adapt the folk tale of Don Giovanni, the proverbial immoral womaniser.
Inspired by his irreverent title character, Mozart produced an opera that defies classification. While it begins as a comedy, it slowly but surely loses most of the laughs as the careless adulterer Don Giovanni starts facing the consequences of his bold romantic conquests. Fittingly, the storyline ends with his banishment to hell where he must pay the price for a life of transgression and sin.
The score shines with Mozart’s inimitable genius. His gift for musical metaphor carries the storyline’s gradual shift from entertainment to punishment and retribution like no other composer’s effort could. Lyrics and music work together as one to deliver genuine laughter, as in the celebrated ‘catalogue aria’ by Don Giovanni’s servant (‘Madamina, il catalogo è questo’) or in the duet ‘Là ci darem la mano’ that demonstrates the adulterer’s seduction technique.
As the serial philanderer breezes through his life of immoral deeds, the opera takes a dark turn that culminates in the shock entrance of the Commendatore, whose powerful basso call “Don Giovanni!” ranks among the most memorable moments in opera. Stupefied, Giovanni tries to plead for his life, but the granite visitor will not be stopped. As the music rises to a dramatic crescendo, he drags Don Giovanni into hell where he belongs. Visitors of Teatro dell’Opera di Roma are in for a fantastic musical ride!