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Don Giovanni
Title Page
Act 1
Act 2
Don Giovanni
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Dramma giocoso ( opera buffa ) in two acts. 1787.
  • Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte.
  • First performance at the Prague National Theatre on 29th October 1787.
Don Giovanni, a dissolute nobleman baritone
Commendatore, an old nobleman bass
Donna Anna, his daughter soprano
Don Ottavio, her betrothed tenor
Donna Elvira, a lady from Burgos soprano
Leporello, Don Giovanni's servant bass
Masetto, a peasant bass
Zerlina, a peasant girl, his betrothed soprano

Don Giovanni has had his way with Donna Anna, entering her bedroom, when she mistook him for her betrothed, Don Ottavio. Leporello, outside, complains of his life as a servant. Donna Anna pursues Don Giovanni and is joined by her father, who dies as they fight. Don Ottavio joins her in vowing revenge against the unknown assailant, while Don Giovanni and Leporello make their escape. Now they come across another woman, Donna Elvira, an earlier victim of Don Giovanni, who now runs off, when they recognise each other, while Leporello reads her a catalogue of his master's conquests. Master and servant now come across a group of peasants, ready to celebrate the marriage of Zerlina and Masetto. Don Giovanni manages to be left alone with Zerlina, having invited the whole company to his palace nearby, but as they go off together Donna Elvira appears, intervening to warn the girl. Donna Anna and Don Ottavio now join them, recognising Don Giovanni by his voice. In Don Giovanni's garden Masetto reproaches Zerlina, frustrating Don Giovanni's attempts to lure her away. Donna Anna, Donna Elvira and Don Ottavio appear, masked, and are invited by Leporello to join the celebration. At the ball in the palace Don Giovanni takes Zerlina into another room and when she screams pretends that Leporello is guilty. The three masked visitors now reveal themselves and accuse Don Giovanni. Outside Donna Elvira's house, Leporello is made to impersonate his master to woo her, while Don Giovanni turns his attention to her maid, a cruel deception. Masetto, seeking Don Giovanni, has his helpers sent off in various directions by Don Giovanni, in the guise of Leporello, and when Masetto is alone he sets upon him, leaving him to be consoled by Zerlina. Leporello, taking refuge in the courtyard of the house of Donna Anna, is seized, but pleads for mercy, when they realise who he is. Don Giovanni and Leporello now come together, as night draws on, in a churchyard, where the stone statue on the tomb of the Commendatore is heard to speak. At this Don Giovanni tells Leporello to invite the statue to dinner. The statue accepts and in a final scene is heard slowly approaching the room where Don Giovanni is at dinner, to the terror first of Donna Elvira, who has been urging reform on her betrayer, and then of Leporello. The statue slowly enters and holding fast Don Giovanni's hand takes him into the fiery pit that now opens before them. There follows a brief epilogue in which the moral of the tale is pointed by those who remain.

Il dissoluto punito, ossia Il Don Giovanni (The Libertine Punished, or Don Giovanni) was written for Prague and staged in Vienna the following year, with additional arias for Don Ottavio and Donna Elvira. Lorenzo Da Ponte based his libretto on the well known story, dramatized in the 17th century by the Spanish playwright Tirso da Molina and the subject of an opera by Giuseppe Gazzaniga, with a libretto by Giovanni Bertati, that had been performed in Venice in February 1787. Da Ponte also drew on Molière's treatment of the subject. The opera opens with a sinister overture, in which the approach of the stone statue can be heard. Don Ottavio's two great arias, Dalla sua pace (Of her peace), written for Vienna, and Il mio tesoro (My treasure) are essential parts of tenor repertoire. The buffo Leporello's catalogue song, Madamina il catalogo (Miss, the catalogue), provides bass-baritones with superb opportunity for comedy, while Don Giovanni's Là ci darem la mano (You'll give me your hand, my dear), the subject, among other things, of variations by Beethoven and by Chopin and of elaboration by Liszt, is one of the most famous of all operatic songs. Don Giovanni orders celebration in an energetic Finch'han dal vino (Let them have wine) and woos Donna Elvira's maid in an eloquent serenade, Deh, vieni alla finestra (Come to the window). Donna Anna herself has her moment in Or sai chi l'onore (You know for sure), while Zerlina's Batti, batti, o bel Masetto (Beat me, beat me, fair Masetto) teases the poor man into easy submission.


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